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Ombudsman or Lokpal


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2. LLB


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I. Introduction

II. Meaning of Ombudsman

III. Powers and Duties

IV. Nature of Ombudsman

V. History of Ombudsman

VI. Demerits

VII. Ombudsman In India

VIII. Salient Features of the Lokpal Act.

IX. Appointment of the Lokpal.

X. Delay in the Lokpal Act.

I. Ombudsman

Ombudsman is a machinery set up in Administrative Law to handle grievances and to prevent injustice.

II. Meaning of Ombudsman

According to C. K. Takwani, Ombudsman means, the grievance man or a Commissioner of Administration.

According to Garner, he is an Officer of Parliament having his primary function, the duty of acting as an agent for the Parliament for the purpose of safeguarding citizens against abuse or misuse of Administrative powers by Executive.

III. Powers and Duties

Ombudsman is a supervisor of the Administrative Authority. It is the duty of the Ombudsman to inquire and investigate complaints made by Government against the Administrative Authorities. Wide powers are conferred upon the Ombudsman to carry out such actions. The power of Ombudsman are not restricted as powers of Civil Court. Suo Moto action can be taken by him.

IV. Nature of Ombudsman.

Judges, Lawyers, or Higher Officers are qualified to be an Ombudsman. He is appointed by the Parliament, but the Parliament does not interfere with the functions of the Ombudsman. Ombudsman can make suggestions or recommendations for changes in the Administrative Law for higher transparency, efficiency and justice.

V. History of Ombudsman

Sweden was the first country to adopt the institution of Ombudsman as early in 1809. Since it's inception the institution of Ombudsman has been adopted by Finland, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, Guyana, England and Australia.

VI. Demerits.

(i) Institution of Ombudsman can be successful in countries with lower population as a single person cannot deal with complaints of large population.

(ii) Such an institution may loose its hold if there are more than one person or there is a large number of sub-ordinate officers on whom the Ombudsman has to rely upon.

(iii) Some jurists have considered this institution not suitable for India and would amount to impractical and disastrous experiment.

VII. Ombudsman In India

Lokpal - The idea of an Ombudsman first came up in 1963 in Parliament through the discussion of a budget allocation for the Minstry of Law.

In 1966 the first Administrative Reform Commission recommended the setting up of two Independent Authorities at the Central and State Level, to look into the complaints against Public functionaries, including Ministers of Parliament.

The Lokpal Bill was first introduced in Parliament in 1968, but was not passed. Eight attempts were made thereafter, till 2011 to pass the Bill, but in vain.

In 2002, the Commission to renew the working of the constitution headed by M. N. Venkatachili recommended the appointment of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas. It also recommended that the Prime Minister may be kept out of the ambit of the authority.

In 2005, second Administrative Reform Commission headed by Veerappa Moily recommended that office of Lokpal to be established without delay.

In 2011, the Government formed a group of Ministers, chaired by ex President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee to suggest measures to tackel corruption and commission the proposal of a Lokpal Bill.

Finally in 2013, Lokpal and Lokayukta Bills were passed in both Houses of Parliament.

In 2016 Lok Sabha agreed to amend Lokpal Act. The Lokpal Bill was sent to the Standing Committee for review. The Lokpal Bill finally came into shape after a nationwide protest led by India Against Corruption , a Civil Society Movement of activist Anna Hazare.

VIII. Salient Features of the Lokpal Act.

The Act allows setting up of an anti-corruption Ombudsman called as Lokpal at the Central and Lokayukta at the State Level. The Lokpal will consist of a Chairperson and maximum of eight members. The Lokpal bill covers all categories of public servants, including the Prime Minister. The Armed Forces do not come under the ambit of Lokpal. The act provides for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even when the prosecution is pending. The State will have to institute Lokayukta within a year of its commencement.

IX. Appointment of the Lokpal.

A five member panel comprising the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India and the eminent Jurist nominated by the President, selects the Lokpal.

X. Delay in the Lokpal Act.

The current Lok Sabha does not have a Leader of the Opposition to sit on the Selection Panel. For an opposition party to get a Leader of the Opposition post, it should have a strength of at least 10% of the total members in the House and none of the parties managed to cross this mark. This unique situation called for an amendment to the existing Lokpal Act to change the Leader of the Opposition to Leader of the largest Opposition Party. While the amendment was moved and Standing Committee approved it, it is yet to be tabled in the Parliament. Such is the situation of the Lokpal Act as on 2017.


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