First Lokpal Set Up With President Kovind, Chief With 8 Members Appointed

The first Lokpal was officially set up on Tuesday with President Ram Nath Kovind which appointed former Supreme Court judge Justice PC Ghose as its chairperson with a team of eight members, involving same number of judicial and non-judicial names.

It was reported Monday that Justice (retired) Ghose was all set to be appointed the Lokpal chairperson. According to an official communique, the four judicial members appointed by the President are former Allahabad High Court Chief Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale, former Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice Pradip Kumar Mohanty, former Manipur High Court Chief Justice Abhilasha Kumari and current Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi.

The non-judicial members are Maharashtra Chief Secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain, retired IPS officer and ex-DG of Sashastra Seema Bal Archana Ramasundaram, retired IRS official Mahender Singh and retired IAS officer I P Gautam, who is currently the full time managing director of Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation (GMRC) Limited.

Justice Ghose was appointed judge of the Supreme Court in March 2013 and retired in May 2017. He is currently a member of the National Human Rights Commission. The names were cleared by the Lokpal Selection Committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, which envisaged the setting up of a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states, was enacted in 2013 and received Presidential assent on January 1, 2014. But the appointment was delayed due to various reasons.

According to the Act, the Lokpal is to be headed by a chairperson, “who is or has been a Chief Justice of India or is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or an eminent person… of impeccable integrity and outstanding ability having special knowledge and expertise of not less than twenty-five years in matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management”.

It states that the body will also consist of not more than eight members out of whom 50 per cent shall be judicial members.

The Lokpal can inquire or initiate an inquiry into allegations of corruption against sitting and former Prime Ministers. However, it cannot exercise this power in allegations of corruption related to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space. Such inquiries will also have to be considered by a full bench of the Lokpal consisting of its chairperson and all members, and approved by at least two-thirds of its members.

The Lokpal will also have the power of inquiry into allegations of corruption against sitting and former Ministers and MPs but not in respect of anything said, or a vote cast, by them in Parliament or any House committee. It will also have jurisdiction over all classes of public servants.