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Lokpal received only 1427 complaints in 2021

Anna Hazare appeals to people to expose corruption by taking maximum advantage of the Lokpal office

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From data obtained from the Lokpal website, it appears that the Lokpal had received only 1427 complaints in the first year. The outcome must have been so ineffective that citizens filed only 110 complaints in the subsequent year and in the first six months of 2021-22 filed only 30 complaints. 

A petition to “make the Lokpal effective or disband it” has been started by former Central Information Commissioner and transparency activist Shailesh Gandhi. It will be sent to the chairperson of the Lokpal. The Lokpal was established under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, to inquire and investigate allegations of corruption against public functionaries who fall within the scope and ambit of the Act.

The Lokpal has jurisdiction to inquire into allegations of corruption against anyone who is or has been prime minister, or a minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union government under Groups A, B, C and D.

RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi says, “Let us hold the Lokpal accountable. He should perform or quit. It appears the Lokpal has become a senior citizen’s club with no accountability. We are sure you recognize that the over 60 crores spent by the Lokpal have come from the pocket of the poorest man in the nation who may be starving,” he wrote, adding that “spending public money with no accountability is not acceptable.”

Remembering how “the Lokpal was set up with great hope and effort by a citizen’s movement,” Gandhi lamented that it has had “zero impact on the corruption in the country and does not seem to be aware of its pathetic performance.” 

Gandhi also demanded some introspection from officials in the Lokpal and urged them to “perform or quit”. The Lokpal consists of a chairperson and eight members out of whom 50% are judicial members. One of the members, Justice Dilip B. Bhosale had resigned as a member in January 2020.

Gandhi urged those working in the ombudsman to “either find a way of discharging your duty or resign.” Referring to Justice Bhosale’s resignation, he said, he appears to have resigned listening to the voice of his conscience. “Public servants in such high positions must at least display this level of honesty,” Gandhi insisted, adding that else, “citizens will lose all faith in such institutions set up to monitor the government if this charade of being an ombudsman continues.”

On 5 April 2011 Hazare started his hunger strike to exert pressure on the Indian government to enact a stringent anti-corruption law, The Lokpal Bill, 2011 as envisaged in the Jan Lokpal Bill, for the institution of an ombudsman with the power to deal with corruption in public places. Anna Hazare’s agitation helped in toppling the UPA government, which was facing a series of corruption allegations, even though the government passed the Lokpal Act in December 2013.

On January 1, 2014, the President gave his assent to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act. However, five years down the line, the Act was not implemented and the 85-year-old social activist had issued a stern warning to the Narendra Modi government, recalling his India Against Corruption movement of 2011. With his constant efforts, India got the Lokpal office and the Lokpal bill was passed.

Anna Hazare said, “I did all that I can do to stop the corruption in government offices and institutions since people now have the advantage of Lokpal they should come forward and make complaints to catch the corrupt ministers and government officers. Its people can take charge and question authorities by taking advantage of Lokpal.”

Social worker Zenobia Khodaiji said, “There are unnecessary attacks and accusations made on Hazare but in spite of having such a Lokpal bill in place no one wants to take advantage of it. They just want to steam their politics. Unfortunately, many commoners don’t even know the difference between Lokpal and Lokayukta. It’s the government’s job to create awareness.”

While the office of the Lokpal has so far received fewer than 1,600 complaints, a sum of nearly Rs 60 crore has been spent on this office, which was constituted in 2019. But what has been worrying transparency activists, even more, is that the number of complaints filed with it per year has declined sharply from 1,427 in 2019-2020, to 110 in 2020-2021 and then, to just 30 in the first six months of the current financial year.

The former CIC, who had handled a record number of complaints and appeals during his term at the Central Information Commission, has in the petition questioned the manner in which the Lokpal was functioning.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Tamanhttps://authorvaidehi.com
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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