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Kerala Lok Ayukta Amendment Bill 2022

Why is it in the news?

  • President Droupadi Murmu has granted approval to the Kerala Government’s Lok Ayukta Amendment Bill 2022.

Highlights of the Bill

  • The amendment removes the Lok Ayukta’s authority to declare public servants ineligible for their positions upon the confirmation of corruption and nepotism complaints against them.
  • Unfavourable decisions against the Chief Minister will now be addressed by the Assembly instead of the Governor, as stipulated in the existing Act.
  • Similarly, for MLAs, the Speaker will now be the competent authority in case of adverse decisions by the Lok Ayukta.
  • The competent authorities are granted the discretion to either accept or reject the recommendations made by the Lok Ayukta.
About Lokayukta

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, was passed by the Indian Parliament to establish Lokpal at the central level and Lokayuktas at the state level to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Lokayukta is an anti-corruption ombudsman institution established in states across India.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 The concept of Lokayukta draws inspiration from the Ombudsman system prevalent in Scandinavian countries, known for its robust mechanisms for ensuring accountability and transparency in governance.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Lokayukta’s main function is to probe allegations of corruption, including bribery, abuse of power, nepotism, and other forms of malfeasance.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 It also addresses issues related to maladministration, inefficiency, and non-compliance with rules and procedures by public officials.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 The institution of Lokayukta was first established in Maharashtra in 1971, marking the beginning of its implementation in India.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Lokayukta is typically headed by a chairperson who is or has been a Chief Justice or Judge of the High Court. It can have up to eight members, including both judicial and non-judicial members.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Members are appointed by the Governor of the respective state.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Lokayukta possesses investigative powers, including the authority to summon witnesses, examine evidence, and conduct inquiries.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 It can recommend punitive measures such as dismissal, suspension, or prosecution of guilty officials based on its findings.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 While Lokayukta’s recommendations hold significant weight, they are usually not binding. The final decision on disciplinary action rests with the respective government authorities or the judiciary.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Lokayukta typically has jurisdiction over public officials and employees within the state government and its agencies. This includes ministers, legislators, bureaucrats, and other elected representatives.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 To ensure impartiality and independence, Lokayukta institutions are often headed by retired judges or eminent individuals with expertise in public administration.

Challenges

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Limited Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction of Lokayuktas is often constrained to certain categories of public servants or specific areas of governance, which may limit their effectiveness in addressing corruption comprehensively.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Political Interference: Lokayuktas frequently encounter political pressure or interference from the government, undermining their autonomy and impartiality.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Resource Constraints: Insufficient financial and human resources hamper Lokayuktas’ ability to carry out investigations and fulfil their mandate effectively.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Whistleblower Protection: Inadequate protection for whistleblowers discourages individuals from reporting corruption due to fears of retaliation or harassment.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Dependency on Political Will: The effectiveness of Lokayuktas heavily relies on the political will of the government to combat corruption and strengthen accountability mechanisms.

Measures to Strengthen Lokayukta

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Comprehensive legislation should be enacted to grant Lokayuktas broader jurisdiction, encompassing all public servants and entities receiving public funds.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 The appointment process of Lokayuktas should be expedited and conducted transparently, ensuring meritocracy and freedom from political influence.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Safeguarding Lokayuktas’ independence with fixed tenures, adequate resources, and immunity from arbitrary removal or interference is crucial.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Launching awareness campaigns to educate the public about Lokayuktas’ role, complaint filing procedures, and the importance of reporting corruption is essential.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Strengthening legal provisions for whistleblower protection, ensuring confidentiality, safety, and immunity from retaliation, is imperative.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Holding governments and public officials accountable for implementing Lokayukta recommendations and taking disciplinary action against those obstructing anti-corruption efforts is necessary.

Conclusion

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Persistent calls for strengthening Lokayuktas and broadening their jurisdiction to encompass more public officials and institutions reflect a growing recognition of the need for robust anti-corruption measures.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Notably, some states have responded by introducing amendments to Lokayuktas Acts, aiming to rectify deficiencies and fortify accountability mechanisms.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Implementation of these measures holds the potential to substantially elevate the efficacy and credibility of Lokayuktas, playing a pivotal role in combating corruption and fostering good governance at the state level in India.

 

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