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Administrative authority is conferred with large powers, which may lead misuse of power. to deal with this, we’ll need an authority that can clean out corruption without being biased. Yes we have our judicial system in India to deal with this threat. However, another mechanism is required for rapid correction. An independent Lokpal and Lokayukta institution had become a watershed moment in Indian politics, offering a remedy to the never-ending threat of corruption. It is a strong and effective tool for combating corruption at all levels of government.
The origins of Lokayukta can be traced back to Scandinavian Ombudsmen. An Ombudsman is a person who is appointed to safeguard citizens from any sort of government maladministration. In the year 1809, Sweden became the first country to establish an Ombudsman organisation. The concept was initially proposed in India by 1963, during a legislative debate on the Law Ministry’s fiscal allocation. In 1966, the Administrative Reforms Commission, led by Late Shri.Morarji Desai, issues its first report on the issues of dealing with people’ concerns against the administration. The study suggests that the Lokayukta and Lokpal institutions be established at the state and federal levels to examine complaints against governments and public employees. It also suggests that it function as a separate entity. The Lokpal Bill was initially proposed in the parliament in 1968, but it was never passed. (Between 1968 and 2011, eight additional failed attempts were undertaken.) The statute was enacted by the state of Orissa, however it took till 1983 to establish this office. Maharashtra eventually passed the law in its assembly in 1971. Thus, Maharashtra establishes the Lokayukta in 1972, putting it into action on October 25, 1972, making it the first government in India to do so. The Lokayukta office was established in Orissa in 1983. (Act passed in 1971). and just a few other states follow suit. However, Anna Hazare, the leader of India’s anti-corruption campaign, has demanded that the Indian government confront corruption promptly. Calls for the appointment of a Lokpal. As a result, the government appoints a ministerial committee, led by Pranab Mukherjee, to study the Lokpal law and provide suggestions for its implementation. As a result, the Lokpal Bill is passed by both houses of Parliament in 2013 and becomes the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act.
Appointment and Removal
The Governor of the State appoints the Lokayukta after the Chief Minister nominates him in consensus with Chief justice of the State High Court, Leaders of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and Chairman of the Legislative Council. Lokayuktas cannot be fired or transferred by the government once appointed, and may only be removed by the state legislature approving an impeachment resolution. Normally, a judge, a retired Chief Justice, or a retired High Court judge are all eligible to be appointed as Lokayuktas. While in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, and Karnataka, judicial qualifications are required for the Lokayukta. In the states of Bihar, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan, however, no formal credentials are required. In the majority of states, the Lokayukta’s term of office is set at five years or 70 years of age (Himachal Pradesh), whichever comes first, and the Lokayukta is not eligible for reappointment for a second term.
In the matter of the Lokayukta’s jurisdiction, there is no consistency at the state level. In this case:
i)The Chief Minister is subject to Lokayukta’s jurisdiction in Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, but not in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, or Bihar.
ii) Ministers and higher-ranking public workers are included in the Lokayukta’s jurisdiction. the vast majority of states Former ministers have also been listed in Maharashtra. as well as government employees.
iii) Members of state legislatures are subject to the Lokayukta’s jurisdiction. Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh are the four states that make up Andhra Pradesh.
iv) In the majority of states, such as Himachal Pradesh, the authorities of corporations, firms, and societies are subject to the Lokayukta’s authority.
A state’s Lokayukta is normally accountable to the state legislature. Its yearly report is delivered to the legislature, and the House usually accepts its recommendations.
The Lokayukta supports individuals in bringing corruption to light, particularly among politicians and government personnel. It’s worth noting that the Lokayukta conducts raids but does not have the authority to punish anyone; instead, it simply recommends punishment to the government. Reduction in rank, compulsory retirement, removal from office, suspension of yearly increments, and censure are among the recommendations made by the Lokayukta to the government. It is up to the state to approve or change the recommendations. The judgement might be appealed to the state high courts or specialized tribunals by the public servant.
RECENT GOVERNMENTAL ACTIONS TO CLIP THE LOKAYUKTAS POWER
The Kerala government has introduced an Ordinance to alter the Kerala Lokayukta Act 1999, giving it the authority to reject the anti-corruption ombudsman’s findings. In an online conference with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan from the United States, the state cabinet recommended that the Governor adopt an Ordinance to alter the Kerala Lokayukta Act 1999. The amendment aims to provide the government the ability to “either accept or reject the Lokayukta’s judgement, after giving an opportunity to be heard.” The proposed change would limit the Lokayukta’s powers to making recommendations or sending reports to the government, thereby limiting its role to that of an advisory body. Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel was forced to resign during the previous administration term when the Lokayukta concluded that he had misused his position. Jaleel has been charged with improperly appointing a relative to the state minority development company. The government’s action comes while complaints against Chief Minister Vijayan and Higher Education Minister R Bindu are pending before the Lokayukta. Vijayan is being sued for alleged irregularities in the allocation of cash help from the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund. State Law Minister P Rajeev justified the government’s newest step by telling reporters that the Ordinance to alter the Lokayukta Act was based on the opinion of the Advocate General. “Natural justice is denied under the current Act since there is no provision for an appeal.” Two High Court decisions have stated that the Lokayukta has only recommendatory authority and not imperative jurisdiction. Section 14 of the Lokayukta Act, according to legal opinion, violates Articles 163 and 164 of the Constitution. The Lokayukta infringes on a Cabinet’s rights,” he stated. Amidst of all the controversies the governor signed the ordinance. According to the ordinance, now that the governor has given his approval, “a competent authority will have power to accept or reject the judgement of the Lokayukta after affording a chance to hear parties affected.”
Giving administrative authorities too much power to govern legislators can lead to massive power abuse. Delegation of adjudicatory power to administrative authorities is frequently chastised as undemocratic and unaccountable. However, due of a shortage of time, we also resort to delegating powers to such agencies. Lokayuktas, on the other hand, being an independent authority, are able to quickly and impartially resolve any complaints brought before them. Thus, the government should take steps to make the appointment of lokayuktas more transparent in order to build trust in such institutions. And, as previously said, lowering the powers of lokayuktas to an advisory level is permissible, but why did the government not present this modification as a bill? This raises questions among citizens about whether the government is in good hands or has been tainted.
- M.P. Jain and S.N. Jain: Principles of Administrative Law
Author: NITYA KARTHIKEYAN, SCHOOL OF INDIAN LEGAL THOUGHT, M G UNIVERSITY, KERALA
Editor: Kanishka Vaish, Senior Editor, LexLife India