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Lokayukta

Maladministration is like a termite that slowly erodes the foundation of a nation and it hinders the administration from completing its task. Corruption is the root cause of this problem that our country faces and though there are many anti-corruption agencies in India, most of these anti-corruption agencies are barely independent. Even the CBI has been labeled as a "caged parrot" and "its master's voice" by the Supreme Court of India.

Many of these agencies are only advisory bodies with no effective powers to deal with this evil of corruption and their guidance is rarely followed there also exists the problem of internal transparency and accountability and moreover, there is not any effective and separate mechanism to maintain checks on such agencies.

The Lokayukta (also Lok Ayukta) (Lokayukta, "civil commissioner") is the Indian Parliamentary Ombudsman, executed into power, through and for, each of the State Governments of India and as the Lokayukta is an anti-corruption authority constituted at the state level and it investigates allegations of corruption and mal-administration in contradiction of public servants and is tasked with speedy redressal of public grievances.

The origin of the Lokayukta can be drawn to the Ombudsmen in Scandinavian countries. The Administrative Reforms Commission, (1966-70), had recommended the creation of the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in the states and the Centre is yet to get a Lokpal. The Lokayukta is created as a statutory authority with a fixed tenure to qualify it to discharge its functions independently and impartially and the person appointed is usually a former High Court Chief Justice or former Supreme Court judge.

Members of the public can directly approach the Lokayukta with the complaints of corruption, nepotism or any other form of mal-administration against any government official.

Lokayukta

Before the passing of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act. 2013, several states in India passed the laws for creating the Institution of Ombudsman called 'Lokayukta'. The first state which passed the law was Orissa in 1970. Later, different States viz. Maharashtra (1971), Rajasthan (1973), Madhya Pradesh (1975), Uttar Pradesh (1975), Karnataka (1979), Andhra Pradesh (1983) and Himachal Pradesh etc. passed laws to create the institution of Lokayukta and now almost all states in India passed legislations for creation of Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta.

The object of Lokayukta system in a state is to make investigation of grievances, allegations against public servants. It is substantial to note that the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta Acts in vogue various States are divergent in many respects and the main areas of difference include the jurisdiction of Lokayukta; definition of public servants, grievance, allegation and action and some State Acts provide for two authorities i.e. Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta while some states only Lokayukta.

In many states, Lokayukta has been given authority over the public servants and officers but in some states even over ministers, and in Karnataka and the Himachal Pradesh States even over the Chief Minister Santhosh Hegde, Lokayukta, Karnataka State submitted the Reports against Yeddyurappa, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Gali Janardhana Reddy, the then Minister, and some other persons providing their corruption in the administration and illegal action against them. As a result, Yadyurappa was obligated to resign along with his ministers.

Many of states have kept the Chief Minister out of the jurisdiction of Lokayukta and the role of Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta has normally been of recommendatory nature. He makes recommendations to the competent authority for taking action. The Lokayukta needs teeth to be as powerful institution and however, for political reasons, States of Orissa and Haryana has abolished Lokayukta in 1992 and 1999 respectively.

The Lokayukta is an authority at state level that deals with corruption and mal-admistration complaints made by the general public as this authority is constituted for faster redressal of public grievances as the concept of Lokayukta traces back to the ombudsman in Scandinavian countries.

The Lokayukta is put into power when the Lokayukta act is passed in the state and works for the State governments and addresses the grievances of the people living in the state. The complaints can be against the integrity and proficiency of the government or its administration which includes the people working in the government sector. The complaints can also be concerning any corruption faced by the people from the government administration.

To address these serious issues a well-qualified and reputed person, generally a former high court chief justice or a former Supreme Court judge, is appointed as the Lokayukta and this person once appointed cannot be terminated or transferred by the government. The creation of Lokpal at the centre and Lokayukta at the state level was recommended by the Administrative Reforms commission in the year 1966; after which the first Lokpal act was passed in the year 1971 in the state of Maharashtra.

The Lokayukta has a fixed tenure and has to make sure to perform the given functions independently and fairly. The general public can directly approach this lokayukta with complaints against corruption, nepotism, or defects in administration and these complaints can be against any government official who has been involved in such corrupt activities.

Historical Background
The origins of Lokayukta can be traced back to Scandinavian Ombudsmen and in general, an Ombudsman is a person who is appointed to safeguard citizens from any kind of maladministration.

In the year 1809, Sweden was the first country to establish an Ombudsman institution and for the redress of people's concerns, the first ARC advocated the establishment of two special authorities known as "Lokpal" and "Lokayukta."

In its report titled "Ethics in Governance," the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (SARC) suggested that the Lokayukta be a multi-member body with a Judicial Member as Chairperson, an eminent jurist or eminent administrator with credentials as a member, and the Head of the State Vigilance Commission as an ex-officio member and the Indian government's efforts to rid the administrative system of corruption and irregularities gave rise to in the establishment of two anti-corruption watchdogs, Lokpal and Lokayukta.

The Lokpal And Lokayuktas Act, 2013

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, often known as the Lokpal Act, aims to establish a Lokpal for the Union and a Lokayukta for each state to investigate charges of maladministration or corruption against government officials and the Act covers all of India and applies to "public servants" both inside and outside the country.

The Lokayukta, along with the Income Tax Department and the Anti-Corruption Bureau, will function as a watchdog in our democratic structure, assisting citizens in reporting cases of corruption and there is a appreciable difference in the structure's patterns and the role of Lokayuktas in different states.

Ombudsman -The origin of Lokayukta can be traced to the Ombudsmen in Scandinavian countries. An Ombudsman is generally regarded as a person who is appointed to protect citizens against any method of maladministration. Sweden was the first country to have the institution of Ombudsman in the year 1809. The Indian government's initiatives in the direction of making the administrative system free from corruption and malpractices resulted in the government's creation of two anti-corruption watchdogs, that is, Lokpal and Lokayukta.

In this context, it is relevant to trace the historical journey through which these institutions have evolved and the first ARC recommended the setting up of two special authorities designated as "Lokpal" and "Lokayukta" for the redressal of citizens' grievances.

All India Conference Of Lokayukta

All India Conference of Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta held at Simla in 1986 has made the following suggestion for the development of the institution and uniformity in the legislations of the states relating to Lokayukta.
  1. The institution of Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta must be given a Constitutional Status.
  2. Along with the ministers and public servants to office, the ex-ministers, and ex-public servants agreed in regard to the action complained against should also expressly be brought within their purview.
  3. The jurisdiction of the Lokayuktas and Upa-Lokayuktaa should extend not only to all claims and corrupt practices but also to the grievances and maladministration as defined in the Central Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill of 1968.
  4. In every State its terminology should be 'Lokayukta".
  5. The condition of the Lokayuktas and Upa Lokayuktas should be uniform throughout India.
  6. There should not be provided for safety deposit for making complaints before the Lokayuktas and Upa-Lokayuktas.
  7. There should be separate independent agencies under the straight control of the Lokayuktas and Upa-Lokayuktas.
  8. The Lokayuktas or Upa-Lokayukta should be given power a approval search and seizure within the meaning of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  9. Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas should be authorized to investigate suo motu.
  10. The Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta should be deemed to be a High Court in the interior the meaning of the Contempt of Court Act.

The Organisational Structure Of Lokayukta

The Lokayukta structure does not follow a consistent pattern across all states and in some states, such as Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra, established both the Lokayukta and the Up-Lokayukta. Other states such as Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, established only the Lokayukta and in Jammu and Kashmir, there is no Lokayukta of Up-Lokayukta.

Organisational Structure
To assist the Lokayukta and the Up-Lokayukta, the organization is divided into following four functional wings:
  1. Administrative and Enquiry Section:
    The section is headed by the Secretary, who is a senior IAS officer and functions as the Head of the Department for complete organisation. S/he is assisted by one Deputy Secretary, Under Secretary, Accounts Officer, Section Officers and subordinate staff.
     
  2. Legal Section:
    To assist the Lokayukta and the Up-Lokayukta in dealing with legal matters and conducting investigations, officers of the rank of District Judge are posted as Legal Advisors and an officer of Chief Judicial Magistrate rank is posted as Dy. Legal Advisor and they are on deputation from the High Court.
     
  3. Special Police Establishment (SPE):
    The SPE is constituted for the investigation of certain offenses, which affect the public administration and those falling under provisions of the prevention of corruption Act that is a Central Act and is headed by the Director General, who is in the rank of Director General or Additional Director General of Police Madhya Pradesh.

    S/he is helped by the Inspector General of Police, Deputy Inspector Generals of Police, Superintendents of Police, Deputy Superintendents of Police, Inspectors and men of the other ranks. It is to be noted that the supervision of investigation by Madhya Pradesh SPE vests with the Lokayukta.
     
  4. Technical Cell:
    The Technical Cell deals with inquiries of technical nature and it is headed by the Chief Engineer, under whom there are Executive Engineers, Assistant Engineers and Technical Assistants. District Vigilance Committees There are seven Divisional Committees in Madhya Pradesh, which enquire into the complaints mentioned to them by the Lokayukta or the Up-Lokayukta; and submit a report to the concerned authority.

Appointment Of Lokayukta

  • The Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta are two independent and impartial bodies created to investigate public servants' behavior and decisions.
  • These authorities are held to the similar standards as Supreme Court and High Court judges and are independent of the legislature and executive.
  • The Governor is the one who appoints them and the Governor refers the Chief Justice of the State High Court and the Leader of the Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly when making appointments.

Qualification and Term of office:
  • In the states of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Odisha, judicial qualifications are obligatory for the Lokayukta.
  • In the states of Bihar, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan, however, no formal qualifications are obligatory.
  • In the majority of states, the Lokayukta's term of office is set at five years or 70 years of age (Himachal Pradesh), either occurs first, and the Lokayukta is not eligible for re-appointment.

Jurisdiction
  • There is no consistency in the case of the jurisdiction of Lokayukta.
  • For instance, The Chief Minister is question to Lokayukta's jurisdiction in Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, but not in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, or Bihar.
  • In the majority of states, the Lokayukta has jurisdiction over ministers and higher government officers and the former ministers and civil officials have also been included in Maharashtra.
  • Lokayukta is responsible to the state legislature. Its annual report is presented in the legislature, and predictably its recommendations are accepted by the House.

Lokayukta In Maharashtra

The Lokayukta is an independent statutory functionary (i) to investigate and make recommendation to redress and correct any injustice done to a person through maladministration and (ii) to investigate and make recommendations in grievances of allegations involving abuse of position and corruption against public servant. The functions, powers and jurisdiction of Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta are laid down in the Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act, 1971 and the Lokayukta organisation is totally free from executive influence or interference as it functions as a Watch-dog.

It is a common experience that the citizens often face difficulties like undue delay, discrimination, corruption etc. in dealing with the Government agencies and they are obligated to run from pillar to post to redress their grievances. This institution takes care of a complaint/letter sent on plain paper / postcard, if it fulfill a piece of necessary evidence to initiate the action against the wrong doer and this institution help them to secure quick and inexpensive relief / justice.

In an institution of Lokayukta, the investigation is conducted confidentially, no court has any right to compel the Lokayukta or any public servant to give evidence relating to such information or to produce the sign so recorded or collected and on a complaint filed by the complainant, if after investigation and hearing, Lokayukta or Upa-Lokayukta is satisfied that the claims are true, he then communicates the findings and recommendations to the competent authority for action within a specified time for compliance.

In case of inaction on his recommendation, Lokayukta or Upa-Lokayukta, as the case may be, submits the special report to the Governor and the Lokayukta submits yearly a consolidated report on the performance of his office to the Governor to be laid before such House of the State Legislature with explanatory memorandum. Importantly, this organization also takes suo-motu cognizance of the issues/causes of public interest so as to pick up the grievances of people with the objective of masse upgrading of a system and has been positive to bring change to some extent and striving to make the system better.

The Maharashtra Lokayukta Institution derived into being from 25th October, 1972 and has been successful in redressing the grievances in about 60-70% of the complaints.
  • Lokayukta: Justice V. M. Kanade
  • UPA: Lokayukta- Shri Sanjay Bhatia

Power Of Lokayukta

  • In states like Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat the chief minister is included within the jurisdiction of Lokayukta while he is discharged from the purview of Lokayukta in the states of Orissa, Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
  • Ministers and higher public servants are also included under the ambit of Lokayukta in nearly all the states.
  • It has the power to raid the houses and offices of corrupt officials at the state level and it can call for relevant files and documents from the state government departments.
  • It also enjoys the power to examine and visit government organisations, which are being investigated.
  • Lokayukta may investigate any action taken by the public servant if it is mentioned by the state government.
  • It has the authority to suggest punishment against the offender to the administration, but it is up to the state to either accept the suggestions or modify them.

Functions Of Lokayukta

  • Lokayukta is tasked with immediate redressal of public grievances against politicians and officers in the government service and it investigates allegations of corruption, abuse of power, maladministration, or lack of honesty against public functionaries at the state level, and once proved recommends action.
  • A consolidated report will be presented by the Lokayukta and Uplokayukta about their purposes to the Governor of the state and they are responsible to the state legislature.
  • Its other crucial purpose is to keep a check on the investigation of anti-corruption agencies and authorities and it carries out fair and impartial investigations, based on facts against the accused person by enchanting the assistance of a special investigating officer.
  • Lokayukta may investigate any action taken by the public servant if it is mentioned by the state government and it is tasked with speedy redressal of public grievances.
  • The complaint will not be taken up if there is any alternate remedy and the process of investigation, etc, is the same as that of the Lokpal.
  • The Lokayukta and Uplokayukta will present a combined report of their functions to the Governor.

Criticism
The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013 act missed the following recommendations:
  • One of the primary demands of the Jan Lokpal Bill was that whistleblowers are protected and whistleblower protection is not included in the Act. We'll need a distinct law for it.
  • The Act only has one section on Lokayukta, which mandates that states must pass the Lokayukta Act within one year and there is, however, no information about their makeup, powers, or other features. States, in fact, have complete autonomy over how their own Lokayuktas are appointed, how they work, and under what conditions they serve.
  • The Citizen's Charter is devoid of any provisions and there are no sufficient procedures for pleasing against the Lokayukta, which is unable to undertake investigations into itself.

Case Laws:
  1. M.P. Special Police Establishment V. State Of Madhya Pradesh (2004) 8 SCC 788

    The Supreme Court has ruled that the Governor may act independently in the matter of grant of sanction of prosecution against the Chief Minister or any Minister as in the matters there would be real risk of bias in the opinion rendered by the Council of Ministers and even in the case of grant of sanction to prosecute an ex-minister when the decision of the Council of Ministers is shown to be unreasonable and based on non-consideration of relevant facts.
     
  2. Justice K.P. Mohapatra V. Ram Chandra Nayak (2002) 8 SCC 1

    The Supreme Court while dealing with functions of Lokpal under s.7 of Orissa Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 1995 has held that the functions of Lokayukta are of utmost importance in seeking that uncontaminated administration of State is maintained and maladministration as defined under section 2 (h) of the Act is exposed, so that suitable action against such maladministration and administrator can be taken and the investigation which Lokpal is required to carry out is quasi-judicial in nature.

Recommendations:
  • Make the Lokayukta the central clearinghouse for all corruption charges and give the Lokayukta jurisdiction over state-run study agencies and bring bureaucrats within the Lokayuktas' jurisdiction;
  • Grant search and seizure powers, as well as the aptitude to launch contempt procedures;
  • To improve the Lokayukta's performance, provide it with managerial and financial autonomy;
  • Take government-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) under the Lokayukta's authority.

Conclusion:
The efficiency of the government machinery determines the scope of democracy and growth to a larger extent and the people should be able to air their problems through an efficient and effective method of compensation in a democracy.

People's democratic aspirations and the administration's strict approach created conflict and the scope of democracy and development depends, to a greater extent, on the efficiency of the government machinery. In a democracy, people should have opportunities to publicize their grievances through an efficient and effective system of redressal.

Democratic aspirations of the people and the authoritarian attitude of the administration shaped tension between them. In this regard, common grievances of citizens against administration are recognized on the basis of corruption, favoritism, nepotism, neglect of duty, discrimination, delay, and maladministration. The entire debate on setting up a strong and healthy Lokayukta is based on the touchstone of transparency and probity in public life.

Best practices in public administration will be realized, only when the integrity in public services is upheld. The pertinent issue of corruption in developing countries retards development; thereby this unit has focused on the need for concentrated efforts to remove corruption. In this unit, we have observed that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 paved the way for the founding of the institution of Lokayukta at the state level. In addition, we have discussed the evolution, need, and consequence of the Lokayukta. The study has highlighted on the structure, selection, jurisdiction, functions, and role of the Lokayukta.

References:
Bibliography:
  1. Administrative law by Dr. Rega Surya Rao- 2nd Edition

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