Supreme Court Latest Comment on Lokpal

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the Supreme Court has recently said that for a government which “seems to be always interested in cleansing the system,” the Centre has been uncharacteristically “dragging its feet” on the appointment of anti-corruption ombudsman, Lokpal, to usher in probity in public life”.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act has not seen the light of day since it was made into law in 2013. Subsequent amendments to the Act are in limbo. One of these amendments is to make the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the House a part of the high-profile search committee to appoint the Lokpal in case there is no recognised Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha. Currently, the 16th Lok Sabha has no recognised LoP. “So, this means the Act would remain languishing. Tell us, will you allow this law to become redundant just because there is no LoP,” the court asked the government.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur asked whether the Lokpal amendment could be implemented by way of an ordinance.

Questioning the political will of the government to appoint the Lokpal, the court asked whether the Lokpal amendment could be implemented by way of an ordinance.

“This can be done to at least remove the misgivings in the minds of the people that this government is not interested in Lokpal … this government seems to be always interested in cleansing the system … ,” Chief Justice Thakur said.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 27, 2016 by the Minister for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Dr. Jitendra Singh.

The Bill amends the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 in relation to declaration of assets and liabilities by public servants. The provisions of the Bill would apply retrospectively, from the date of the coming into force of the 2013 Act.

The Lokpal Act requires a public servant to declare his assets and liabilities, and that of his spouse and dependent children. Such declarations must be made to the competent authority within 30 days of entering office.

Further, the public servant must file an annual return of such assets and liabilities by July 31st of every year. The Lokpal Act also mandates statements of such declarations be published on the website of the relevant Ministry by August 31 of that year.

The Bill replaces these provisions to state that a public servant will be required to declare his assets and liabilities. However, the form and manner of making such a declaration will be prescribed by the central government.

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