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There’s no Lokpal because there’s no opposition leader, says govt

Lokpal act was passed after massive demonstrations in 2013

The Prime Minister’s office today said the government has not appointed a Lokpal at the center yet as there is no leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha.

According to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act passed in 2013, the center is supposed to appoint a Lokpal as an ombudsman for corruption related issues.

“The institution of Lokpal is yet to become functional, since the Act needs some amendments, inter alia, to resolve certain issues relating to appointment of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal, etc. in the absence of a Leader of Opposition recognized as such in the Lok Sabha,” said Jitendra Singh, junior minister at the Prime Minister’s office.

The law was passed by the Congress Party-led government after massive nationwide uprising led by social campaigner Anna Hazare and his associates such as Arvind Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi.

The act was, however, subsequently criticized for envisaging a ‘toothless’ Lokpal and for giving politicians too much of a role in selecting him.

Meanwhile, with no opposition political party securing at least 10% of the Lok Sabha seats, the house no longer has an official head of opposition — one of the key persons who would select the Lokpal.

The the question of how to proceed was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice in 2015, which gave its suggestions on how to resolve the imbroglio in December 2015.

However, the central government led by Narendra Modi is still studying the suggestions, Singh said.

“The recommendations are under consideration,” Singh said today.

STATES DELAY

The law also required every state to “establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta for the State.. to deal with complaints relating to corruption against certain public functionaries, within a period of one year from the date of commencement of the Act.”

However, most states have not instituted Lokayuktas either.

Singh said the center cannot intervene in this matter, as “it is the sole prerogative of State Government” to enact the law in this regard.

“Establishment of the institution of the Lokayukta including any appointment therein falls within the domain of the States,” he said.

Even Arvind Kejriwal, who came to power in Delhi on the back of massive anti-corruption agitations, has not set up a Lokayukta in Delhi.

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