The Lok Pal Bill, 2011 was introduced in Parliament on 4 August 2011. The Bill seeks to establish the office of the Lok Pal to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption. In this Brief we discuss the key features of the Bill, the powers of the Lok Pal and procedure for conducting investigation and prosecution under the Bill. We also analyse the scope of persons covered by the Lok Pal, role of the CVC and CBI, procedures of the Lok Pal, penalty against false and frivolous complaints and issues related to security of sensitive information.
Highlights of the Bill
- The Bill seeks to establish the office of the Lok Pal to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption.
- The Lok Pal will cover the Prime Minister after he demits office, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Group ‘A’ officers and officers of organisations which are either government aided or funded by public donations.
- Any person may make a complaint against a public servant within seven years of the offence. The Bill provides a process for investigation and inquiry.
- If the Lok Pal finds that an offence has been committed it may recommend disciplinary action and file a case in the Special Court.
- The Bill enhances penalties for certain offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 from seven years to ten years. It also imposes penalties for false and frivolous complaints.
- All expenses of the Lok Pal will be charged to the Consolidated Fund of India.
Key Issues and Analysis
- Currently, the Central Vigilance Commission has jurisdiction over Group ‘A’ officers. The Lok Pal will also investigate Group ‘A’ officers. Therefore, there may be dual jurisdiction over these officers.
- The Bill creates an Investigation Wing under the Lok Pal. An earlier Standing Committee had recommended against creating additional investigation agencies.
- The Bill expands the definition of public servant to include certain private persons under the Lok Pal. This differs from provisions under several other Acts.
- There are some gaps in the inquiry and prosecution procedure.
- The Lok Pal cannot prosecute private persons who abet corruption.
- The seven-year limitation on filing complaints may prevent prosecution of a two-term Prime Minister in the early years of his tenure.
- The penalty prescribed for false and frivolous complaints is different from other similar laws and Bills.