Almost a year after the Lokpal became functional, the rules and prescribed format for filing complaints with the anti-corruption ombudsman were issued. The notification, under Section 59 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 lays down the rules called the Lokpal (Complaint) Rules, 2020. The Lokpal mechanism will turn out to be effective only when genuine and valid complaints are filed. Thus, it becomes necessary for every person to understand how a complaint can be filed.
Here are some important points to keep in mind while filing a complaint:
- Documents required for filing a complaint
A complainant has to give valid proof of identity, as specified in the notification. Foreign nationals can also lodge complaints and a copy of their passports will be accepted as proof of identity. While filing a complaint, the details of the accused officials, allegation and the evidence relied upon, the complainant or the authorized signatory will also have to submit an affidavit.Registration/incorporation certificate of the organization, on whose behalf the complaint is made and copy of authorization certificate in favor of the signatory, if the complaint is on behalf of a board, body, corporation, company, limited liability partnership, authority, society, an association of persons or trusts, has to be furnished.
The complaint can be filed either
- by post or in person.
In case the complaint is filed electronically, the hard copy has to be submitted to the Lokpal within 15 days.
- Complaints can be against
The Prime Minister has been brought under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal with subject matter exclusions and specific process for handling complaints against the Prime Minister. Lokpal had been established to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries and in case a complaint is filed against a sitting or former Prime Minister, a full bench will decide, at the admission stage, whether an inquiry should be initiated.
The rules further state that if such a complaint is dismissed by the full bench at the admission stage, records of the inquiry shall not be published or made available to anyone.
No complaints can be filed against a public servant under the Army Act, Navy Act, Air Force Act, and Coast Guard Act under the Lokpal mechanism.
- Language in which complaint filed
A complaint may ordinarily be made in English. However, the Lokpal may also entertain a complaint in any of the languages referred to in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.
Such complaints whose contents are illegible, vague, or ambiguous, which are trivial or frivolous, do not contain any allegation, are not filed within the limitation period of seven years, or are pending before any other court, tribunal or authority shall be disposed of within 30 days.
The identity of the complainant or the accused official will be shielded by the Lokpal till the conclusion of inquiry or investigation. However, no protection shall be provided where the complainant himself reveals his identity to any other office or authority while making the complaint to Lokpal.
The Lokpal started functioning in March last year after the appointment of its first chairman and members. Even though the form for filing a complaint had not been notified until March 2020, Lokpal decided to scrutinize all the complaints received in the office of Lokpal, in whatever form they were sent. 1,065 complaints received till 30th September 2019 out of which 1,000 have been heard and were disposed of. Thus it is very essential for us as responsible citizens to be thorough with the process of filing a complaint in the Lokpal mechanism for taking prudent steps towards a corruption-free country.