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06-03-2023

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Table of Contents


  • GS-2 Polity
    • Karnataka BJP MLA and son’s bribery scandal: History, powers of the state’s Lokayukta
  • Fact File
    • What is the SWAMIH investment fund and its affordable housing push
    • What is the One Nation, One Challan initiative, under which Gujarat is setting up virtual courts



Karnataka BJP MLA and son’s bribery scandal: History, powers of the state’s Lokayukta

GS-2: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

The Lokayukta has discovered more than Rs 8 crore of unexplained money at the home and workplace of MadalVirupakshappa, the Channagiri BJP MLA who was also the chairman of Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd, a Public Sector Undertaking, before the Assembly Elections in Karnataka


 

Virupakshappa and five others are accused in a bribery case filed under Section 7 (a) (b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

 

Lokayukta

  • Lokayuktas serve as the state equivalents of the central Lokpal
  • According to Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, each state is required to establish a body named the Lokayukta for addressing complaints concerning corruption against particular public officials
  • The Act stipulates that the state legislature must establish the Lokayukta within one year of the Act's commencement, if it has not been established, constituted, or appointed already by law. 
  • Initially, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, aimed to make it obligatory for each state to have a Lokayukta.
  • However, Regional parties opposed a centralized law for lokayuktas, citing federalism concerns.
  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 created a general framework for lokayuktas, allowing states to decide specific details.
  • Maharashtra established the first lokayukta in 1971, while Odisha passed the Act in 1970, but it only came into force in 1983.

 

Appointment

  • The lokayuktasare appointed by the governor.
  • The governor of a state typically seeks input from both the chief justice of the state high court and the leader of the opposition in the state legislative assembly when appointing the lokayukta.

 

Qualifications

  • The qualifications required for the position of lokayuktavary by state
  • In Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, and Assam, judicial qualifications are required. 
  • However, Bihar, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan do not have specific qualifications for this position.

 

Tenure

  • The majority of states set the lokayukta's term of office at five years or until the individual reaches the age of 65, whichever comes first. 
  • Lokayuktas are typically not eligible for reappointment to a second term.

 

Jurisdiction

  • The jurisdiction of lokayuktavaries across different states, with some variations worth noting: 
  • The chief minister falls under the jurisdiction of lokayukta in Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, while being excluded from the purview of lokayukta in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, and Orissa. 
  • In almost all states, ministers and higher civil servants are within the purview of lokayukta, with Maharashtra also including former ministers and civil servants. 
  • Members of state legislatures come under the jurisdiction of lokayukta in Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Assam. 
  • Local bodies, corporations, companies, and societies fall within the jurisdiction of lokayukta in most states.

 

Investigations

  • In most states, the lokayukta can initiate investigations based on a complaint from a citizen regarding unfair administrative action or suo moto
  • However, in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Assam, he does not have the power to initiate investigations on his own accord (suo moto).

 

Scope of Cases Covered

  • The Lokayukta has the authority to examine both "grievances" and "allegations" in the states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, and Karnataka. 
  • However, in Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, the Lokayukta is limited to investigating only "allegations" of corruption and not "grievances" of maladministration.

 

Responsibilities and Powers of Lokayukta in a State

Annual Performance Report to Governor and State Legislature 

  • The Lokayukta submits an annual report on his performance to the Governor of the state, who places itbefore the state legislature with an explanatory memorandum. 
  • The Lokayukta is accountable to the state legislature.

Assistance from State Investigating Agencies

  • The Lokayukta can seek assistance from state investigating agencies to conduct inquiries into matters under his jurisdiction.

Access to Government Files and Documents

  • The Lokayukta has the power to request and obtain relevant files and documents from state government departments.

Advisory Recommendations

  • The recommendations made by the lokayukta are only advisory and not binding on the state government.

 

Central Lokpal Act of 2013

  • The Central Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 was given the final presidential assent on January 1, 2014, and came into effect on January 16, 2014.
  • It was the outcome of a long-standing demand for stricter anti-corruption laws, including the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare.

 

Salient features of the Lokpal and Lokayukta act, 2013

  • It establishes the institution of the Lokpal at the Centre and the Lokayukta at the State level to provide a uniform vigilance and anti-corruption roadmap.
  • The jurisdiction of Lokpal includes the Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament and Groups A, B, C and D officers and officials of the Central Government.
  • The Lokpal will consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of 8 members, with 50% being judicial members.
  • 50% of the Lokpal members will be from SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and women.
  • The Selection Committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court Judge nominated by the Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist nominated by the President of India will select the Chairpersonand members of Lokpal.
  • The Search Committee will assist the Selection Committee in the selection process, with 50% of its members being from SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and women.
  • The Prime Minister is brought under the purview of the Lokpal with specific process for handling complaints against the Prime Minister.
  • The Lokpal's jurisdiction covers all categories of public servants, including Group A, B, C, and D officers and employees of Government. The CVC will send its report of preliminary enquiry back to the Lokpal for further decision in respect of Group A and B Officers.
  • The Lokpal has the power of superintendence and directionover any investigating agency, including the CBI, for cases referred to them by the Lokpal.
  • A High-Powered Committee chaired by the Prime Minister will recommend the selection of the Director of CBI.
  • The Act provides for attachment and confiscation of property of public servants acquired by corrupt means, even while the prosecution is pending.
  • The Act lays down clear timelines for preliminary enquiry, investigation, and trial, with special courts to be set up.
  • The maximum punishment under the Prevention of Corruption Act is enhanced from seven years to ten years. The minimum punishment under certain sections is also increased.
  • Institutions fully or partly financed by Government are under the jurisdiction of Lokpal, but institutions aided by Government are excluded.
  • The Act provides adequate protection for honest and upright public servants.
  • Lokpal has the power to grant sanction for prosecution of public servants in place of the Government or competent authority.
  • The Act aims to strengthen the CBI by setting up a Directorate of Prosecution, appointing the Director of Prosecution on the recommendation of the CVC, maintaining a panel of advocates, transferring officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal, and providing adequate funds to CBI for investigating cases referred by Lokpal.
  • All entities receiving donations from foreign sources in excess of ₹10 lakhs per year are under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
  • The Act mandates the setting up of the institution of Lokayukta by the State Legislature within a year, providing freedom to the states to decide upon the contours of the Lokayukta mechanism in their respective states.

 

Shortcomings of Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013

  • Lokpalcannot suomotu proceed against any public servant.
  • Emphasis on form of complaint rather than substance.
  • Severe penalty for false/fake complaints against public servants may discourage complaints.
  • Anonymous complaints not accepted; must submit complaint with supporting documents.
  • Legal aid provided to the accused public servant.
  • Complaints must be filed within 7 years.
  • Lack of transparency in handling PM-related complaints.

 

[Ref- IE]


Fact File


What is the SWAMIH investment fund and its affordable housing push

  • The SWAMIH Investment Fund is a social impact fund created to finish residential projects that have been stalled or are in financial distress. 
  • Managed bySBICAP Ventures Ltd, a company within the State Bank Group.
  • The Fund is sponsored by the Indian Ministry of Finance. 
  • As a lender of last resort, the Fund provides assistance tofirst-time developersestablished developers with troubled projects, and those with a history of stalled projects, customer complaints, NPA accounts, and litigation issues. 
  • Its involvement often results in improved sales and collections, especially for projects that have been delayed for extended periods. 
  • The Finance Ministry reports that the SWAMIH Fund is home to one of the largest real estate private equity teams in India, with a sole focus on financing and supervising the completion of distressed housing projects.

What is the One Nation, One Challan initiative, under which Gujarat is setting up virtual courts

  • One Nation, One Challan is an initiative of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • The initiative aims to bring traffic police and Regional Transport Office (RTO) on one platform.
  • The integrated system detects traffic violations through the CCTV network.
  • The system retrieves vehicle ownership details from applications like VAHAN and driving licenses from SARATHI.
  • An e-challan with the relevant penalty amount is generated and sent to the mobile number linked with the vehicle.
  • The initiative enables seamless collection of challans and data transfer.

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