New Delhi: The office of country’s first Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman, will move out of a five-star luxury hotel in Delhi to its own permanent address. At present, the office of Lokpal works from ‘The Ashok’ hotel in Chanakyapuri here. “The government is in the process of searching a permanent office for Lokpal,” the personnel ministry replied to an RTI application filed by this PTI journalist. It said no payment has so far been made towards rental charges for the Lokpal office at ‘The Ashok’ hotel.
President Ram Nath Kovind had on March 23 administered the oath of office to Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the chairperson of the anti-corruption ombudsman. Justice Ghose, 66, retired as the Supreme Court judge in May 2017. He had last served as a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Senior IAS officer Dilip Kumar was on Monday appointed the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the office of Lokpal. It is perhaps the first official appointment of a bureaucrat in Lokpal.
Kumar, a 1995-batch IAS officer of Punjab cadre, was working as the joint secretary of the NHRC when his appointment was announced. The Lokpal’s eight members were administered the oath by Justice Ghose on March 27. Former chief justices of different high courts, justices Dilip B Bhosale, Pradip Kumar Mohanty, Abhilasha Kumari and Ajay Kumar Tripathi, had taken oath as judicial members of the Lokpal. Former first woman chief of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) Archana Ramasundaram, ex-Maharashtra chief secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain, former IRS officer Mahender Singh and Gujarat cadre ex-IAS officer Indrajeet Prasad Gautam were sworn-in as the Lokpal’s non-judicial members.
According to the rules, there is a provision for a chairperson and a maximum of eight members in the Lokpal panel. Of these, four need to be judicial members. A high-level selection committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recommended the appointments of the chairperson and members of the Lokpal. The Lokpal Act, which envisages 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.