Jurisdiction and Functions of Lokpal
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. Also covered are chairpersons,members, officers and directors of any board, corporation, society, trust or autonomous body either established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly funded by the Union or State government. It also covers any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above ₹10 lakh (approx. US$ 14,300/- as of 2019).
A complaint under the Lokpal Act should be in the prescribed form and must pertain to an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against a public servant. There is no restriction on who can make such a complaint. When a complaint is received, the Lokpal may order a preliminary inquiry by its Inquiry Wing or any other agency, or refer it for investigation by any agency, including the CBI, if there is a prima facie case. Before ordering of an investigation by an agency, the Lokpal shall call for an explanation from the public servant to determine whether a prima facie case exists. This provision, the Act says, will not interfere with any search and seizure that may be undertaken by the investigating agency. The Lokpal, with respect to Central government servants, shall refer the complaints to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The CVC will send a report to the Lokpal regarding officials falling under Groups A and B; and proceed as per the CVC Act against those in Groups C and D.
The Inquiry Wing or any other agency will have to complete its preliminary inquiry and submit a report to the Lokpal within 60 days. It has to seek comments from both the public servant and "the competent authority",before submitting its report. There will be a "competent authority" for each category of public servant as defined under the Act.
A Lokpal Bench shall consider the preliminary inquiry report, and after giving an opportunity to the public servant accused of corruption for his/her defence, decide whether it should proceed with the investigation. It can order a full investigation, or direct to start departmental proceedings or close the proceedings. It may also proceed against the complainant if the allegation is false. The preliminary inquiry should normally be completed within 90 days of receipt of the complaint.
After the investigation, the agency ordered to conduct the probe has to file its investigation report in the court of appropriate jurisdiction, and a copy of the report has to be filed before the Lokpal. A Bench of at least three members will consider the report and may grant sanction to the Prosecution Wing to proceed against the public servant based on the agency’s charge-sheet. It may also ask the competent authority to take departmental action or direct the closure of the report. Previously, the authority vested with the power to appoint or dismiss a public servant was the one to grant sanction under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Now this power will be exercised by the Lokpal.
The lokpal is vested with the power of search and seizure and also powers under the Civil Procedure Code for the purpose of conductiong preliminary inquiry & investigation and power of attachment of assets and taking other steps for eradication of corruption.
Lokpal will have power of superintendence and direction over any central investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the Lokpal.