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India Has Set up Anti-corruption Ombudsman System

2019-04-01 10:04 Monday

India's federal anti-corruption ombudsman, the Lokpal, became operational last Tuesday.

On March 17, 2019, the committee consist of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Loksabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan appointed retired Supreme Court judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose as India's first Lokpal chairman, while eight others were appointed to the body.

Following the Jan Lokpal movement led by Anna Hazare in 2011, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was significantly amended by parliament in 2013 and approved by the President on 1 January 2014.

Anti-corruption Ombudsman System

The bill calls for anti-corruption investigations at the federal and state levels. Lokpal investigates corruption allegations at the national level, while Lokayukta performs the same function at the state level.

But for a variety of reasons, the appointment of a federal ombudsman was delayed for more than five years.

Under Section 3 of the act, the chairman of Lokpal may be a current or former chief judge of India. It could also be chaired by a person who is or has been a Supreme Court judge, or by a "person of impeccable integrity and distinction" with special knowledge and expertise in "anti-corruption policy, public administration, finance including insurance and banking, law and management".

Section 14(1)(a) authorizes the ombudsman to investigate allegations of corruption against the current and former prime ministers. However, that authority was limited because section 14(1)(a)(I) prohibited the investigation of certain allegations of prime ministerial corruption related to international relations, internal and external security, public order, atomic energy and space.

Corruption charges against federal ministers and members of congress also fall under the ombudsman's jurisdiction. But the Lokpal cannot launch an investigation into alleged corruption against any member of parliament in respect of anything said or done in parliament.

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