Better late than never, the two and half years old N. Biren Singh’s government, amidst political crisis now has Lokayukta – an anti-corruption ombudsman organization yesterday.
Justice (Retd) T Nandakumar Singh was sworn-in as the first Chairperson of the Manipur Lokayukta along with Justice (Retd) Basu Deo Agarwal and Ameising Luikham, IAS (Retd) as Judicial Member and Non Judicial Member respectively. Perhaps, a good news for all the people of the state. What is more interesting is that chairman and members once appointed, Lokayukta cannot be dismissed nor transferred by the government, and can only be removed by passing an impeachment motion by the state assembly.
Ombudsman, an institution started in Sweden in 1809, is a public officer whose function is to investigate the grievances, raised by citizens regarding maladministration of the authority. Through this institution the citizens have power to lodge complaint against the concerned authority if there are gross lapses in the functioning of the public administration. An Ombudsman can be empowered to investigate the cases of corruption (in any form) not only against the government officers but also against the judges of the highest court and Ministers.
There is an inseparable relation between democracy and ombudsman. Usually, ordinary people are the victim of the negligence of public administration or wrong policy of the government or corruption of the government officials and Ministers. So, there shall be an institution in any democracy whose chief function shall be to oversee whether proper policies are adopted and more important, whether the adopted policy is executed properly. The institution of Ombudsman protects individuals from the injustice done to them by any of the three main organs of the government. It is independent of the three organs of state as neither of the organs of government has any control over it. Every man has free access to it.
The Lokayukta (meaning “appointed by the people”), constituted under The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, is an anti-corruption ombudsman to enquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries in the Indian states. Once appointed, Lokayukta cannot be dismissed nor transferred by the government. He can be removed only by passing impeachment motion by the state assembly. Lokayukta investigates cases of corruption, where substantiated, recommend action. The institution is a great check on corruption, brings about transparency in the system, and makes administrative machinery citizen friendly.
Corruption is internationally recognized a major problem, capable of endangering stability and security of society, threatening social, economic and political development and undermining the values of democracy and morality. It has assumed alarming proportions resultantly public funds going into private hands leading to enrichment of a few. Corruption causes inefficiency, delays and insensitivity to people’s grievances. As a result, citizens bitterly feel the distance that separates them from the decision makers. This distance, makes them feel abandoned or even rejected and they eventually lose interest in public matters and become marginalized. In states like Manipur this is one of the main causes of rampant extremism that is plaguing the society. Corruption does not mean only taking bribe but mal-administration. The short experience of Anti-corruption cell of Manipur government shows that people’s grievances are many and the cell is unable to perform the assigned duty due to its limitations in authority being an organ of the executive machinery of the state.
The commissioning of the Lokayukta under The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 in the state of Manipur will now investigate the citizen grievances of injustice and hardship caused by maladministration, and will also conduct inquiry into allegation of abuse of office, corruption or lack of integrity against public servant.
This will decrease the frustration among the youths of the state. Lets’ hope the first case taken up by the lokayukta Manipur is a sue motto case regarding the malicious practice to the recruitment procedure conducted by the MPSC.