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Lokpal goes without regular head as Justice Ghose completes term

Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose on Friday completed his term as the Lokpal chief, leaving the anti-corruption body without a chairperson at the moment.

An official said Justice Pradip Kumar Mohanty, a judicial member of Lokpal, has been given additional charge of the post of chairperson.

The Lokpal is headed by a chairperson and can have eight members — four judicial and the rest non-judicial.

At present, there are six members in the Lokpal.

Two posts of judicial members have been lying vacant for over two years.

“Justice Ghose has completed his term today. Justice Pradip Kumar Mohanty, judicial member, has been given additional charge of the post of chairperson, Lokpal,” an official said.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, which envisages the appointment of a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to look into cases of corruption against certain categories of public servants, was passed in 2013.

President Ram Nath Kovind had on March 23, 2019, administered the oath of office to Justice Ghose as the Lokpal chairperson.

A Lokpal chief and members are appointed for a term of five years or until attaining the age of 70 years.

Justice Ghose, who was born on May 28, 1952, completed his term as the Lokpal chief after attaining 70 years of age, the official said.

Lokpal had received a total of 4,244 corruption complaints between April 2021 and January 31, 2022, a jump of over 80 per cent from 2020-21, according to an RTI reply.

It had got 1,427 complaints during 2019-20.

“Total 4,244 number of complaints (including format and non-format) have been received through online/offline and email during the financial year 2021-22 (up to January 31, 2022),” the Lokpal had said vide its reply dated February 28, 2022, to an RTI query filed by this PTI journalist.

The Lokpal has failed to provide prosecution sanction to public servants charged with corruption since its inception in March 2019, according to the RTI reply.

A Lokpal chief and its members are appointed by the President after obtaining the recommendations of a selection committee headed by the prime minister and comprising the speaker of the Lok Sabha, the leader of opposition in the lower house, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist as recommended by the chairperson and members of the selection panel.

The prime minister-led selection committee shall for the purposes of selecting the chairperson and members of the Lokpal and for preparing a panel of persons to be considered for such appointment, constitute a search committee consisting of at least seven persons of standing and having special knowledge and expertise in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, policy making, finance including insurance and banking, law and management, according to the Lokpal Act.

An earlier search committee constituted for the purpose had in February 2019 invited applications for appointment as the chairperson and members of Lokpal.

Justice Dilip B Bhosale resigned as a Lokpal member in January 2020, citing personal reasons, nine months after he was appointed to the post.

Another Lokpal member, Justice (retired) Ajay Kumar Tripathi, had died at the AIIMS Trauma Centre in New Delhi on May 2, 2020.

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