Lokpal fails to give prosecution sanction to anyone in nearly three years

The appointments of directors of inquiry and prosecution, the two top personnel for looking into complaints of corruption and processing prosecution of accused public servants, are yet to be made, it said

Published - March 08, 2022 03:58 pm IST - New Delhi

Lokpal logo. Photo: lokpal.gov.in

Lokpal logo. Photo: lokpal.gov.in

The Lokpal has failed to provide prosecution sanction to public servants charged with corruption since its constitution nearly three years ago, according to an RTI reply by the anti-graft ombudsman.

The appointments of directors of inquiry and prosecution, the two top personnel for looking into complaints of corruption and processing prosecution of accused public servants, are yet to be made, it said.

"Request was made to the government for providing a panel for the appointment of Director of Inquiry and Director of Prosecution," the Lokpal said in reply to the RTI application.

Constituted after a series of agitations seeking its formation, the Lokpal is the apex body to inquire and investigate graft complaints against public functionaries and it began functioning with the appointment of its chairperson and members on March 27, 2019. "Nil" was the response from the Lokpal when asked to provide details of prosecution approved, recommended or proposed by it for public servants accused of corruption.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, states that the Lokpal shall constitute a prosecution wing headed by the director of prosecution for the purpose of prosecution of public servants.

It states that "there shall be a Director of Inquiry and a Director of Prosecution not below the rank of Additional Secretary to the Government of India or equivalent, who shall be appointed by the chairperson from a panel of names sent by the Central government".

The director of prosecution shall, after having been so directed by the Lokpal, file a case in accordance with the findings of investigation report, before the special court and take all necessary steps in respect of the prosecution of public servants in relation to any offence punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the law states.

The Lokpal shall also constitute an inquiry wing headed by the director of inquiry for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, according to the law.

"Provided that till such time the Inquiry Wing is constituted by the Lokpal, the Central government shall make available such number of officers and other staff from its Ministries or Departments, as may be required by the Lokpal, for conducting preliminary inquiries under this Act," it said.

President Ram Nath Kovind had on March 23, 2019, administered the oath of office to Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the chairperson of the Lokpal.

The Lokpal's eight members, four judicial and the remaining non-judicial, were administered the oath of office by Justice Ghose on March 27 that year. Currently, the Lokpal has a vacancy of two judicial members. The Lokpal has received 4,244 corruption complaints between April 2021 and January 31, 2022, a jump of over 80% from 2020-21. It had got 1,427 complaints during financial year 2019-20.

"Total 4,244 number of complaints (including format and non-format) have been received though online/offline and email during the financial year 2021-22 (up to January 31, 2022)," the Lokpal had said. A total of 2,355 complaints, including format and non-format, were received through online or offline and email during 2020-21. The government had in March 2020 issued a format for filing corruption complaints with the Lokpal against public servants. The Lokpal declined to reveal details of alleged corrupt officials, saying they come under "3rd party information".

"The name and designation cannot be revealed as they come under the 3rd party information," it said.

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