On March 2, 2020, the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (MoPP&P) has issued a format for filing complaints of corruption against public servants with the Lokpal or anti-corruption ombudsman under Lokpal (Complaint) Rules, 2020. The Lokpal rules has been laid down under the Section 59 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013.
- A complaint can be filed with the Lokpal against the sitting or former prime minister, a minister of the Union, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha members and bureaucrats, among others.
- No complaints can be filed against a public servant under the Army Act, Navy Act, Air Force Act and the Coast Guard Act.
Key points for filing a complaint to Lokpal:
-It is mandatory for complainant to provide an affidavit on non-judicial stamp paper.
-Any false and vexatious complaint is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with fine which may extend to Rs 1 Lakh.
-The complaint is to be made in English but Lokpal also considers a complaint in any of the languages referred to in the 8th Schedule to the Constitution.
-Foreign nationals can also lodge complaints. The copy of their passports will be accepted as proof of identity.
-The complaints, whose contents are illegible, vague or ambiguous, which are trivial or frivolous, do not contain any allegation, are not filed within the limitation period of seven years, or are pending before any other court, tribunal or authority, will have to be disposed of within 30 days.
-A complaint filed against the prime minister shall be decided by the full bench of Lokpal at the admission stage. If such a complaint is dismissed by the full bench at the admission stage, records of the inquiry shall not be made available to anyone.
-The complaint can be filed electronically, by post or in person. In case the complaint is filed electronically, its hard copy has to be submitted to the Lokpal within 15 days.
-The anti-corruption ombudsman protects the identity of the complainant or the accused official until the conclusion of the inquiry or investigation, if required.
Established under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013 in March 2019, Lokpal is the apex body to deal with cases of corruption at the national level. It inquires into allegations of corruption against public functionaries of the central government in a time-bound manner. Its panel consists of chairperson and a maximum of eight. Of these, four need to be judicial members.
- Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose is the first and current Chairperson of Lokpal.
- Judicial Members: Justice Pradip Kumar Mohanty, Former Chief Justice Of Jharkhand High Court; Justice Abhilasha Kumari, Former Chief Justice Of Manipur High Court; Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi, Former Chief Justice Of Chhattisgarh High Court; Currently one post is vacant.
- Non-Judicial Members: Dinesh Kumar Jain, Former Chief Secretary Of Maharastra; Archana Ramasundaram, Former Director General Of Sashastra Seema Bal; Mahender Singh, Former Member Of Central Board Of Indirect Taxes And Customs; Indrajeet Prasad Gautam, Former Managing Director Of Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation.
Meaning of Important Terminology used in above Content:
Ambiguous/Vague– Not clear
Frivolous/Trivial– Not of serious purpose
Vexatious– Causing annoyance to the defendant