Lokpal to accept corruption complaints filed in prescribed format only

The Central government had in March 2020 notified the Lokpal (Complaint) Rules, which prescribe the format to file a complaint.

Published - August 26, 2022 01:09 pm IST - New Delhi

Lokpal logo.

Lokpal logo. | Photo Credit: Photo: lokpal.gov.in

“Anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal has decided to accept corruption complaints only if they are filed in a prescribed format,” an official note issued recently said.

The Central government had in March 2020 notified the Lokpal (Complaint) Rules, which prescribe the format to file a complaint.

What are the powers and duties of Lokpal?

In accordance with these rules, Lokpal had issued a circular in July last year detailing the procedure to be followed for dealing with the complaints.

On February 10, it issued a corrigendum saying complaints that are not in the prescribed format will be put up before its chairperson for necessary action. The provisions contained in the corrigendum now have been revisited by the Lokapal's full Bench.

"The full Bench of Lokpal of India has decided that henceforth (with immediate effect), complaints received (by any mode viz. by hand/ by post/ through email etc.) in the office of the Lokpal of India that are not in the prescribed form will not be processed further for any order under Section 20 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013," the Lokpal said in an official note dated August 24.

Section 20 carries details of procedure in respect of the preliminary inquiry and investigation by the Lokpal. However, "as a last opportunity", the Lokpal has asked the complainants that did not adhere to the prescribed format in their complaints to fix the errors latest by September 15. The form is available on the Lokpal of India website — https://lokpal.gov.in.

"Upon expiry of this period, complaints filed in the prescribed form only and received in the office of Lokpal of India will be taken up on record for further disposal. No action under Section 20 of the Act will be taken on complaints that are not filed in the prescribed form," the note said.

The Lokpal said its corrigendum issued in February "stands withdrawn". In the 2021-22 fiscal, it has received 5,680 complaints.

Of these, 169 were classified under 'format' and 5,511 under 'non-format' category, the Lokpal's office had said in a recent reply to an RTI query filed by this PTI journalist.

All complainants have to mandatorily give an affidavit on a non-judicial stamp paper, that among other things mentions, "making any false and frivolous or vexatious complaint is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees", according to the form prescribed for filing the complaint.

The Lokpal had on September 1 last year, for the convenience of complainants, decided that the term 'non-judicial stamp paper' would include all modes of collection of stamp duty, i.e. non-judicial stamp paper, e-stamping, franking machine (franking is a process of impressing instead of stamping), notary stamp, revenue stamp, adhesive and non-adhesive stamps and court fee stamp.

The corruption complaint can also be filed electronically, by post or in person. However, when the complaint is filed electronically, its hard copy needs to be submitted to the Lokpal within 15 days from the date of filing.

A complaint shall contain the details of allegations about the commission of an offence by the public servant, that include the Prime Minister, a Union Minister, Members of Parliament and government employees among others.

Lokpal, the apex body to inquire into and investigate allegations of corruption against public functionaries has been working without its regular chief since May 27.

Justice Pradip Kumar Mohanty, a judicial member of Lokpal, has been holding the additional charge of chairperson after Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose completed his term.

The Lokpal is headed by a chairperson and can have eight members — four judicial and rest non-judicial. At present, there are six members in the Lokpal. Two posts of judicial members have been lying vacant for over two years.

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