The Lokayukta is an anti-corruption authority orombudsman (An ombudsman is an official, appointed by the government or by parliament to represent the interests of the public).
He works along with the Income Tax Department and the Anti Corruption Bureau. The Lokayukta (sometimes referred to the institution itself) investigates allegations of corruption and mal-administration against public servants and is tasked with speedy redressal of public grievances.
The range of powers vary. In, say, Delhi, the Lokayukta inquires into allegations of corruption, misuse of authority and wrong doings of public functionaries including Chief Minister, Ministers and MLAs. And civil servants/bureaucrats, judiciary, police and the Delhi Development Authority are excluded from its ambit.
In Karnataka, which in the 1980s was the first state to move to get a Lokayukta and where there has been much controversy over the teeth that the office has, the new powers promised to the Lokayukta keep the Chief Minister, ministers, MPS and MLAs out of the purview.
The structure of the lokayukta is not same in all the states. Some States like Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have created the lokayukta as well as upalokayukta, while some others like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have created only the lokayukta. There are still other states like Punjab and Orissa that have designated officials as Lokpal. This pattern was not suggested by the ARC in the states.
The lokayukta and upalokayukta are appointed by the governor of the state. While appointing, the governor in most of the states consults:
- The chief justice of the state high court.
- The leader of Opposition in the state legislative assembly.
The Lokayukta is usually a former High Court Chief Justice or former Supreme Court judge and has a fixed tenure.
Judicial qualifications are prescribed for the lokayukta in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka and Assam.
But no specific qualifications are prescribed in the states of Bihar, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
In most of the states, the term of office fixed for lokayukta is of 5 years duration or 65 years of age, whichever is earlier. He is not eligible for reappointment for a second term.
Investigations and Scope of Cases Covered
Any citizen can make his/her complaints of corruption directly to the Lokayukta against any government official or elected representative. Lokayukta’s power varies from State to State.
In some States, the Lokayukta inquires into allegations against public functionaries including Chief Minister, Ministers and MLAs.
While some has the power to investigate into civil servants/bureaucrats, judiciary and police.
Lack of prosecution powers, adequate staff, funds and lack of independence are some of the limitation of the Lokayukta.