The Lokpal, the apex body to inquire and investigate graft complaints against public functionaries, came into being with the appointment of its chairperson and members in March 2019.
More than two years after the Lokpal came into being, the Centre is yet to appoint a director of inquiry for conducting preliminary inquiry into graft complaints sent by the anti-corruption ombudsman, according to an RTI reply. The Lokpal, the apex body to inquire and investigate graft complaints against public functionaries, came into being with the appointment of its chairperson and members in March 2019.
According to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, there shall be a director of inquiry, not below the rank of joint secretary to the government of India, who shall be appointed by the central government for conducting preliminary inquiries referred to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) by the Lokpal.
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“Although Director of Inquiry has not been appointed by Govt. of India, cases are being received in the Commission for conducting preliminary inquiries,” the CVC said in its reply to an RTI query filed by this journalist. Forty-one cases have been received for preliminary inquiry as of March 2021. Out of these, reports in 36 cases have been sent to the Lokpal of India, the commission said in its reply dated July 5.
The CVC was asked to provide details of the director of inquiry and cases referred to it by the Lokpal for conducting preliminary inquiries, among others. According to the latest official data, the Lokpal received 12 complaints of corruption, including eight against senior government officials, between April and June this year.
As many as 110 complaints, including four against Members of Parliament (MPs), were received by the Lokpal during 2020-21, a decline of over 92 per cent from 1,427 plaints received in 2019-20. Of the total of 12 complaints received in the first three months of the ongoing fiscal, eight were against Group A or B officials and four were against “chairperson/ member/officer/employee in any body/board/corporation/authority/company/society/trust/autonomous body” wholly or partially financed by the central government or controlled by it, according to the Lokpal data.
The data showed that two complaints were closed after a preliminary examination and three complaints seeking preliminary inquiry were pending with the CVC. A status report from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is pending in one complaint, showed the data for 2021-22 (up to June 2021), without mentioning further details.
According to provisions contained under Section 20 (1) (b) of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, complaints in respect of public servants belonging to groups A, B, C or D are referred by the Lokpal to the CVC for a preliminary inquiry. The CVC forwards such references to the concerned chief vigilance officer for preliminary inquiry and report.
President Ram Nath Kovind had on March 23, 2019 administered the oath of office to Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the chairperson of Lokpal. At present, the Lokpal has a vacancy of two judicial member.