IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


29th February, 2024 Polity


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  • Nearly 19 months after he retired as a Supreme Court judge, Justice A M Khanwilkar was appointed the chairperson of the anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal.
  • The post fell vacant nearly two years ago.
  • The government has also appointed six members, including three judicial members, to the Lokpal.


Analysis of the Lokpal institution

  • The Lokpal of India, established five years ago as the country's first anti-corruption body to investigate complaints against public functionaries, including the Prime Minister, has faced significant scrutiny due to its handling of corruption complaints.
  • According to a parliamentary panel report, around 68% of corruption complaints received by the Lokpal were disposed of without any action in the past four years.
  • Additionally, the Lokpal has not prosecuted a single person accused of graft during this period.

Key Points from the Parliamentary Panel Report:

  • Disposal of Complaints: Out of 8,703 complaints received since 2019-20, the Lokpal disposed of 5,981 complaints. Most complaints (6,775) were rejected for not being in the correct format.
  • Investigations: Only three complaints were fully investigated, while 36 were at a preliminary stage. The Lokpal received 2,760 complaints in 2022-23, out of which only 242 were in the prescribed format.
  • Prescribed Format Requirement: On January 5, the Lokpal issued an order stating that complaints not in the prescribed form would not be entertained. This move has led to a large number of complaints being rejected on the grounds of incorrect format.
  • Performance Assessment: The parliamentary panel, led by BJP member Sushil Kumar Modi, criticized the Lokpal's performance as unsatisfactory. Despite being established to promote clean governance, the Lokpal's performance has not met expectations.
  • Budget Allocation: The Lokpal was allocated a budget of ₹197 crore in 2022-23, with an expenditure of ₹152 crore till January 31. For the current fiscal year, it has been allotted ₹92 crore.
  • Office Acquisition: In 2022, the Centre purchased a new office space for the Lokpal at the World Trade Centre in south Delhi for ₹254.88 crore.
  • Recommendations: The parliamentary panel recommended that the Lokpal should not reject genuine complaints solely on technical grounds, such as format discrepancies. It urged the Lokpal to strengthen anti-corruption efforts, especially considering India's leadership role in the G20 Anti Corruption Working group.


  • Background: The Lokpal was established after a decade-long anti-corruption movement led by social activist Anna Hazare, which culminated in the passing of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act in 2013. However, it took several more years for the current government to appoint the first Lokpal.
  • Functionality: The Lokpal, comprising both judicial and non-judicial members, was tasked with investigating allegations of corruption against high-level public officials. However, it has struggled to initiate significant cases or address complaints effectively.
  • Vacancies and Inefficiencies: Vacancies in key positions within the Lokpal, including judicial posts and crucial administrative roles, have hampered its functioning. Additionally, the institution has been unable to utilize its allocated budget fully, indicating inefficiencies in its operations.
  • Criticism from Within: Justice Dilip B. Bhosale, a former judicial member of the Lokpal, resigned citing personal reasons and lack of work, echoing sentiments of inefficacy within the institution. Other civil society activists and former participants of the anti-corruption movement have also expressed disillusionment with the Lokpal's performance.
  • Declining Complaints: The number of complaints filed with the Lokpal has dwindled significantly over the years, leading some to question whether this reflects a decline in corruption or a lack of faith in the institution. Critics argue that the Lokpal's structure and management have contributed to this decline.
  • Political Dynamics: Observers note that while opposition parties may advocate for a strong anti-corruption watchdog when out of power, they often fail to empower such institutions when in government. This dynamic, evident in both central and state-level anti-corruption bodies, underscores the challenges faced by independent oversight institutions.

Working of Lokayukta

  • The history of Lokayukta, the state-level anti-corruption ombudsman, traces back to the concept of a central anti-corruption watchdog, Lokpal, which first emerged in 1963 during discussions on the Budget allocation of the Union Law Ministry.
  • Despite several unsuccessful attempts to pass bills for a Lokpal at the central level, various states took the initiative to establish their own Lokayuktas.
  • The Lokayukta institution, first introduced in Maharashtra in 1971, has since spread to several states across India.
  • Currently, states like Odisha, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Meghalaya, and Assam have established Lokayuktas.
  • Each state has its own legislation governing the Lokayukta, with varying powers and functions.
  • The Lokayukta plays a crucial role in raising public awareness about corruption among politicians and government officials.
  • Through its investigations and actions, the Lokayukta has the authority to recommend criminal prosecution or other legal repercussions for individuals found guilty of corruption.
  • Among all the states, Karnataka's Lokayukta is often considered the most prominent. It has gained recognition for its proactive approach in investigating corruption cases and holding public officials accountable. However, Maharashtra's Lokayukta is noted for having relatively limited powers, making it one of the weakest Lokayuktas in the country.
  • Overall, the establishment of Lokayuktas has been a significant step towards combating corruption at the state level in India.
  • However, there is a need for continuous improvement and strengthening of these institutions to ensure their effectiveness in addressing corruption and promoting transparency in governance.

Maharashtra's Lokayukta:

  • Maharashtra pioneered the establishment of Lokayukta in 1971 under the Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upayukta Act.
  • In January 2019, an amendment was made to the 1971 law to include the Chief Minister under its purview after they demit office.
  • The recent Maharashtra Lokayukta Act, 2022, further empowers the anti-corruption ombudsman by allowing it to direct state agencies to undertake investigations.

Karnataka's Lokayukta:

  • Karnataka's Lokayukta Act was set up in 1984 under Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde.
  • The Lokayukta in Karnataka has had a tumultuous history, with instances of high-profile corruption investigations and controversies surrounding its powers.
  • Subsequent amendments to the Karnataka Lokayukta Act have altered the process of removal of the Lokayukta and redefined its investigative authority.

Way Forward

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta, established after the 2011 anti-corruption movement, have unfortunately become powerless entities both at the central and state levels.
  • Despite the initial hope for these institutions to effectively combat corruption, they have faced significant challenges and failures in their functioning.
  • To revive and strengthen these institutions, several reforms are necessary:
  • Independence from Political Influence: Currently, the selection process for Lokpal and Lokayukta members is dominated by the political wing, leading to potential biases and lack of independence. Establishing a select committee that is free from political influence is crucial to ensure the independence of these bodies.
  • Diverse Representation: The predominance of retired judges in Lokpal and Lokayukta membership should be reconsidered. Instead, these bodies should consist of individuals from diverse backgrounds known for their integrity and public trust. This diversity will enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the institutions.
  • Empowerment and Resources: Lokpal and Lokayukta have suffered from a lack of resources, including budgetary allocations and human resources. Adequate funding and infrastructure are essential to enable these bodies to carry out their functions effectively.
  • Transparency and Accountability: Procedural rules should be promptly formulated to facilitate and process complaints. Transparency in the functioning of Lokpal and Lokayukta, along with accountability mechanisms, is necessary to rebuild trust in these institutions.
  • Public Awareness and Participation: Increasing public awareness about the role and significance of Lokpal and Lokayukta is crucial. Encouraging public participation and engagement in reporting corruption cases will strengthen the accountability of public officials and institutions.
  • Reform of Selection Process: Revisiting the selection process for Lokpal and Lokayukta members to ensure merit-based appointments and reduce political interference is essential. This reform will enhance the credibility and impartiality of these institutions.





Q. Lokpal's journey since its establishment has been marred by challenges ranging from operational inefficiencies and vacancies to broader questions about its autonomy and effectiveness. Examine. (150 words)