NEW DELHI : The government has rushed with the constitution of India’s first ombudsman by inviting applications for the posts of the chairman and eight members of the Lokpal latest by February 7.

Union Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy says the process of setting up the Lokpal has been now set into motion and the government will ensure that it comes into being at the earliest, maybe as early as February end.
A notification issued by his ministry last Friday calls for the prospective candidates to apply directly or through nominations by the Supreme Court, the High Courts, Chief Secretaries of the state governments or the secretaries in the Government of India. The qualifying age for the posts is 45 years.
Even those applying directly will have to furnish a letter of recommendation from one eminent person who is or has been associated with vigilance or dealing with anti-corruption issues.
The government has also notified rules for constitution of an 8-member search committee to shortlist the names and forward them to the 5-member selection committee headed by the Prime Minister for recommending constitution of the Lokpal under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act passed by Parliament on December 17.
The search committee will also be selected by the selection committee, whose other members are the Lok Sabha Speaker, leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India or his nominee Supreme Court judge and one eminent jurist chosen by the PM and these members.
As provided under the Act, which was notified last Thursday, there will be four judicial members while the other four members will be those with expertise of not less than 25 years in the matter of anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance, insurance, banking, law and management.
Only a serving or former Chief Justice of India, serving or former Supreme Court judge and serving or former Chief Justice of a High Court will be eligible to become the Chairman, while the judicial members are required to be either serving or former Supreme Court judge of a former or serving High Court Chief Justice. The chairman and members of the Lokpal will be appointed for five years or up to 70 years of age, whichever is earlier. The rules also make it clear that MPs, MLAs, members of Panchayat and Municipalities and those convicted for any offence of moral turpitude shall not be eligible for the posts. The notification inviting applications also carries a prescribed proforma to be filled up by the candidate or the nominating authority, failing which they will be summarily rejected. The proforma is to be submitted to the Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training latest by 5.30 PM on February 7. Separate forms are to be filled if applying for the posts of both the chairman and member.
As per the Act, not less than 50 per cent of the members of the Lokpal shall be the persons from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes (OBCs), minorities and women. The anti-graft ombudsman-type body will be conducting investigation suo moto or on complaints against the Prime Minister, Union Ministers, members of Parliament and senior public servants, with the help of the CBI.

Jal Khambata

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