The Lokpal Rules, notified by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions on March 2, stipulate that in case a complaint is filed against a sitting or former prime minister, the entire bench will decide if an inquiry should be initiated. It adds that if such a complaint is dismissed, records of the inquiry will neither be published nor made available to anyone, reported The Indian Express.
“The complaint filed against a public servant referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 14 of the Act, shall be decided by the full bench referred to in sub-clause (ii) of clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 14, in the first instance, at the admission stage,” sates Section 7 of the Lokpal Rules. Another section of the rules states that further inquiry shall be “in camera proceeding”.
If a complaint is filed against a Union minister or a Member of Parliament, it has to be decided by a bench of not less than three members of the Lokpal. According to rules, the Lokpal has to “protect” the identity of the complainant till the investigation is over.
Some of the grounds on which the Lokpal can dispose a complaint are that the contents are “illegible, vague or ambiguous, trivial or frivolous” or where the complaint does not contain an allegation against a public servant; or where the case is pending before any other authority; and, the alleged offence is within the period of seven years. The rules also bar any complaint filed against a public servant under the Army Act, Navy Act, Air Force Act or the Coast Guard Act.
The Lokpal Rules have been notified almost a year after former Supreme Court Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose took oath as the country’s first anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal. Former Sashastra Seema Bal chief Archana Ramasundaram, former Maharashtra Chief Secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain, Mahender Singh and Indrajeet Prasad Gautam were named the non-judicial members of Lokpal. The judicial members are Justices Dilip B Bhosale, PK Mohanty, Abhilasha Kumari and AK Tripathi.
The appointments came over five years after the former United Progressive Alliance government passed the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. The Lokpal Act provides for an anti-corruption panel that will supervise cases of corruption against certain categories of public servants.