The Indian Lokpal is synonymous to the institution of Ombudsman existing in the Scandinavian countries.
Ombudsman is a Swedish word that stands for an officer appointed by the legislature to handle complaints against administrative and judicial action.
The term Lokpal was coined in 1963 by L. M. Singhvi, a member of parliament.
The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) set up in 1966 recommended the constitution of a two-tier machinery of a Lokpal at the Centre, and Lokayukts in the states.
The Lokpal Bill was for the first time presented during the fourth Lok Sabha in 1968, and was passed there in 1969.
For the first time, The Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha on 22 December 2011 and was passed by the House on 27 December as The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011.
Following are some important features of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, passed by Parliament.
[a] Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the level of the states.
[b] Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50 per cent shall be judicial members.
[c] 50 per cent of members of Lokpal shall be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.
[d] The selection of chairperson and members of Lokpal shall be through a selection committee consisting of Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court judge nominated by CJI, eminent jurist to be nominated by the President of India on the basis of recommendations of the first four members of the selection committee.
[e] Prime Minister has been brought under the purview of the Lokpal.
[f] Lokpal’s jurisdiction will cover all categories of public servants.
[g] All entities receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of Rs 10 lakh per year are brought under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
[h] Provides adequate protection for honest and upright public servants.
[i] Lokpal will have power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal.
[j] A high powered committee chaired by the Prime Minister will recommend selection of the Director, CBI.
[k] Directorate of Prosecution headed by a Director of Prosecution under the overall control of Director.
[l] The appointment of the Director of Prosecution, CBI on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission.
[m] Transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal with the approval of Lokpal.
[n]The bill also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.
[o] The bill lays down clear time lines for preliminary enquiry and investigation and trial and towards this end, the bill provides for setting up of special courts.
[p] A mandate for setting up of the institution of Lokayukta through enactment of a law by the State Legislature within a period of 365 days from the date of commencement of the Act.
The Lok Sabha approved an amendment to the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, to allow extension of the time given to public servants and trustees and board members of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) receiving government funds of more than Rs. 1 crore or foreign funding of more than Rs 10 lakh to declare their assets and those of their spouses.
According to the rules notified under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, every public servant shall file declaration, information and annual returns pertaining to his assets and liabilities as well as of his spouse and dependent children as on March 31 on or before July 31 of that year.