Estimate for Lokpal expenses exceeded DoPT figures: RTI reply

Despite allocation of funds, hardly any action has been taken against corrupt officials on Lokpal’s direction, points out petitioner

Updated - March 15, 2020 09:13 pm IST

Published - March 15, 2020 08:01 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The overall proposed revised estimate of expenditure under various heads for the Lokpal office this financial year, as on January 15, had exceeded the figure recommended by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), according to a reply provided under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.

The data shared with RTI campaigner K. Govindan Nampoothiry from Kerala states that the DoPT had given the total proposed revised expenditure as ₹18.01 crore, whereas it was subsequently revised to ₹18.58 crore for the entire financial year, owing to an increase in projected expenses. This was mainly on account of office expenses and minor works.

The total expenditure for the Lokpal office stood at ₹11.61 crore as on January 15, when there was an additional committed liability of about ₹6.09 crore. The total requirement was then about ₹17.7 crore.

Also read| Lokpal receives 1,065 complaints, disposes of almost all

Mr. Nampoothiry approached the Appellate Authority, following which the Proposed Revised Estimate for 2019-20 was shared. However, the names of accused persons and other related information were not given, he said.

‘Nationwide movement’

“There was a nationwide movement demanding the institution of Lokpal. A total of ₹101.29 crore was allocated to the Lokpal in the 2019-20 Budget. Now that it has been established and a lot of funds are being spent on its functioning, hardly any action has been initiated against corrupt officials and politicians in power on its direction. There is an apprehension that it might not yield desired results,” said Mr. Nampoothiry.

Compared with the DoPT’s estimates, on revision the amounts increased from ₹5 crore to ₹6 crore for “office expenses” and from ₹1 crore to ₹2.55 crore for “minor work”. There was also a minor hike in the revised expenditure, from ₹10 lakh to ₹13 lakh, for professional services. However, on account of salaries, the figure slightly declined from the required amount of over ₹3 crore.

The proposed revised estimates under the heads “rent, rates and taxes”, “domestic travel expenses”, “foreign travel expenses”, “other administrative expenses”, “overtime allowance” and “other charges” were also lower than the DoPT’s proposed figures.

Against the DoPT's figure of ₹8 crore, the proposed estimate on account of “rent, rates and taxes” came down significantly to ₹6.5 crore for this financial year. The Lokpal office, which was earlier set up temporarily in The Ashok hotel, was recently provided its new office space at the Vasant Kunj Institutional Area Phase II.

In response to Mr. Nampoothiry’s query, the Lokpal office had earlier said that it had received 1,255 complaints and that seven meetings of the full Bench of the Lokpal had been held till December 20, 2019.

Information not shared

However, it did not share information pertaining to the names of accused persons, details of corruption charges and action taken by the Lokpal, stating that they were not in a segregated format. Details of the expenses for office functioning, salary for members and other works were also not given.

It was almost a year after the Lokpal became functional that, in the first week of March, the DoPT issued a notification providing the rules and prescribed format for filing complaints with the anti-corruption ombudsman.

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