Lokpal and Lokayuktas

In this law article, you will read about Lokpal and Lokayuktas and how they function in the Indian legislative system.


The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, is a significant piece of legislation passed by the Parliament of India to establish institutions for combating corruption at both the national and state levels. This Act was enacted to create an independent and effective framework to address complaints of corruption against public officials and to ensure transparency and accountability in public administration.

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What Are Lokpal and Lokayukta?

The Lokpal is an ombudsman institution at the national level in India. It was conceptualized to address grievances and allegations of corruption against public officials, including the Prime Minister, ministers, Members of Parliament (MP), and senior bureaucrats.

The Lokpal has the authority to investigate corruption cases and take action against those found guilty. The idea of having a Lokpal dates back to the early 1960s but was only realized after several decades of public demand and activism.

The Parliament of India passed the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 to establish the Lokpal. It aims to create an independent and impartial body that can investigate corruption cases without undue influence from the government or other institutions. The Lokpal consists of a chairperson and several members, who are selected through a rigorous and transparent process.

Similar to the Lokpal at the national level, each state in India can have its own Lokayukta, which functions as an ombudsman at the state level. The Lokayukta’s role is to investigate corruption complaints against state government officials, including the Chief Minister, ministers, Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA), and public servants.

The institution of Lokayukta was first established in the state of Maharashtra in 1971, and subsequently, many other states have also created their own Lokayuktas.

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Key Features of Lokpal

1. Independent Body: The Lokpal is designed to be an independent body to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption. It operates at the national level.

2. Jurisdiction: It has the authority to investigate allegations of corruption against current and former public servants, including elected representatives and government officials.

3. Prime Minister Included: One of the contentious aspects of the Lokpal Act is its inclusion of the Prime Minister within its purview. However, there are certain safeguards to prevent frivolous or malicious complaints.

4. Central and State Lokayuktas: It also envisages the establishment of Lokayuktas at the state level to deal with corruption cases at the state level.

5. Investigation Wing: It has its own investigation wing with the power to conduct independent investigations.

6. Prosecution Wing: Lokpal also has a prosecution wing responsible for prosecuting cases of corruption.

7. Time-Bound Investigations: It is expected to conduct time-bound investigations to expedite the resolution of corruption cases.

8. Public Grievance Redressal: It can address grievances related to corruption through proper mechanisms.

9. Power of Search and Seizure: Lokpal can impose penalties on those found guilty of corruption.

10. Transparent and Accountable: Lokpal is expected to be transparent and accountable in its functioning.

Key Features of Lokayukta

1. Anti-Corruption Body: The Lokayukta is an independent and quasi-judicial body established to address complaints related to corruption in the state administration.

2. Jurisdiction: It has the authority to investigate allegations of corruption against public servants, including elected representatives, government officials, and even those associated with local bodies and corporations under the state government.

3. Complaint Handling: Lokayukta accepts complaints from the public regarding corruption issues and maladministration in the state.

4. Investigative Powers: Lokayukta possesses powers similar to a civil court, including the ability to summon witnesses, examine evidence, and conduct investigations.

5. Recommendations and Prosecution: After conducting an inquiry, the Lokayukta can make recommendations for further action, including prosecution, if any wrongdoing is found.

6. Independence: The Lokayukta is meant to be independent and insulated from political interference, ensuring impartiality in its investigations.

7. Timely Resolution: It is expected to expedite the resolution of corruption cases and ensure time-bound investigations.

8. Transparency and Accountability: It is expected to function transparently, providing periodic reports and being accountable to the public.

9. Preventive Measures: Apart from investigating specific cases of corruption, the Lokayukta may also recommend measures to prevent corruption in government institutions.

10. Recommendations for Systemic Changes: It can suggest systemic reforms to improve governance and reduce corruption in the state administration.

11. Coordination with Other Agencies: The Lokayukta may work in coordination with other law enforcement agencies to ensure effective action against corruption.

Structure of Lokpal

  • The Lokpal is headed by a Chairperson who is the chief executive of the institution. The Chairperson is appointed by the President of India based on the recommendation of a selection committee.
  • The Lokpal can have a maximum of 8 members.

The selection committee for the Lokpal consists of the following members:

  1. Prime Minister of India.
  2. Speaker of the Lok Sabha (House of the people).
  3. Leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  4. Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court judge nominated by the Chief Justice.
  5. An eminent jurist, recommended by the other four members of the selection committee.

Structure of Lokayukta

The specific structure and powers of the Lokayukta may vary from state to state, as each state can enact its own Lokayukta Act. However, the typical structure of the Lokayukta includes the following components:

  • The Lokayukta is the head of the institution and acts as the ombudsman at the state level. The Lokayukta is appointed by the Governor of the state based on the recommendation of a selection committee, which usually includes the Chief Minister, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the leader of the opposition, and the Chief Justice of the High Court or a sitting High Court judge nominated by the Chief Justice.
  • Upa-Lokayukta: In some states, there might be provisions for appointing Upa-Lokayuktas (Deputy Lokayuktas) to assist the Lokayukta in carrying out its functions. Upa-Lokayuktas may have the authority to independently investigate and act on complaints of corruption and misconduct.

Term of the Lokpal

The term of the Lokpal Chairperson and members is generally a fixed period of five years from the date they assume office or until they attain the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.

Term of Lokayukta

The term of the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas, if appointed, is fixed for a certain number of years, such as five years, from the date of assuming office or until they reach a specified age, whichever comes first.

Limitations of Lokpal and Lokayukta

While the Lokpal and Lokayukta institutions in India play crucial roles in combating corruption and promoting transparency, they also face certain limitations. Some of the key limitations include:

1. Limited Jurisdiction

The Lokpal’s jurisdiction is limited to investigating and prosecuting cases of corruption against central government officials, including the Prime Minister and MPs. Similarly, the Lokayukta’s jurisdiction is restricted to cases within the state government’s domain. This means that corruption cases involving other branches of government, private individuals, or state and central government officials in certain capacities might fall outside their purview.

2. Lack of Adequate Staff and Resources

The Lokpal and Lokayukta often face challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified and experienced personnel. Insufficient resources and staff can hinder the efficient and timely handling of cases, leading to delays in investigations and prosecution.

3. Dependence on Government Cooperation

The effectiveness of the Lokpal and Lokayukta depends on the cooperation of government agencies, departments, and officials. If there is resistance or lack of cooperation from these entities, it can hinder the investigation and resolution of corruption cases.

4. Delays in Proceedings

Due to various reasons, including administrative and legal complexities, corruption cases investigated by the Lokpal and Lokayukta can sometimes experience prolonged delays in resolution. This delays justice and may affect public confidence in these institutions.

5. Overburdened Judicial System

The Lokpal and Lokayukta refer corruption cases to special courts for prosecution. However, the judicial system in India is often burdened with a backlog of cases, leading to slow disposal of cases and a potential lack of deterrence for corruption.

6. Political Interference

There have been concerns that the appointments and functioning of Lokpal and Lokayukta could be subject to political influence, impacting their independence and effectiveness in dealing with high-level corruption cases.

7. Limited Awareness and Public Participation

The success of anti-corruption institutions also relies on public awareness, support, and active participation. Limited awareness among the general public about the roles and powers of the Lokpal and Lokayukta can hinder their impact on combating corruption effectively.

Addressing these limitations requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including the government, civil society, and the judiciary, to strengthen the institutional framework, enhance resources and infrastructure, and ensure the independence and transparency of these anti-corruption bodies.

Summing Up

Establishing Lokpal and Lokayukta was a significant step towards addressing corruption in India. It aimed to provide an independent and impartial mechanism to investigate and prosecute corruption cases against public officials, including those at the highest levels of government. These institutions were expected to play a crucial role in ensuring greater transparency and accountability in the administration.

Ultimately, the success of the Lokpal and Lokayukta relies on a collective effort from the government, civil society, the judiciary, and the public. By working together to overcome the challenges and limitations, India can move closer to achieving its goal of a transparent and corruption-free governance system, fostering trust and confidence among its citizens.

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Sravani Ravinuthala
WritingLaw » Law Notes » Lokpal and Lokayuktas: Features, Structure, Term, and Limitations Law Study Material
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