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Lokayukta – What it is?

Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta

The Administrative Reforms Commission suggested that there should be one authority dealing with complaints against the administrative acts of Ministers or Secretaries to Government at the Centre and in the States and another authority in each State and at the Centre for dealing with complaints against administrative acts of other officials and all these authorities should be independent of the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. It recommended that the Lokpal be appointed at the Centre and Lokayukta at the State level. Based on the report of the Administrative Reforms Commission the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984 came to be enacted. The Karnataka Act has also been enacted to make provision for making enquiries by the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta into the administrative actions relatable to matters specified in List II or List III of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, taken by or on behalf of the Government of Karnataka or certain public authorities in the State of Karnataka, including any omission or commission in connection with or arising out of such action, etc. The Lokayukta or Upa-Lokayukta under the Karnataka Act are established to investigate and report on allegations or grievances relating to the conduct of public servants which includes the Chief Minister, all other Ministers and Members of the State Legislature; all officers of the State Government; Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen of local authorities, corporations, owned or controlled by the State Government, a company in which not less than 51% of the shares are held by the State Government, societies registered under the Societies Registration Act, cooperative societies and universities established by or under any law of the legislature. The functions to be discharged by the Lokayukta or Upa-Lokayukta are investigative in nature. The Lokayukta and the Upa-Lokayukta while exercising powers under the Act, of course, is acting as a quasi-judicial authority but his functions are investigative in nature. The Upa-Lokayukta is a high dignitary in the State of Karnataka. The broad spectrum of functions, powers, duties and responsibilities of the Upa-Lokayukta, as statutorily prescribed, clearly bring out that not only does he perform quasi-judicial functions, as contrasted with purely administrative or executive functions, but that the Upa-Lokayukta is more than an investigator or an enquiry officer. At the same time, notwithstanding his status, he is not placed on the pedestal of a judicial authority rendering a binding decision. He is placed somewhere in between an investigator and a judicial authority, having the elements of both. For want of a better expression, the office of an Upa-Lokayukta can only be described as a sui generis quasi-judicial authority. An Upa-Lokayukta is certainly not a court. He does not adjudicate a lis nor does he render a “judicial decision” derived from the judicial powers of the State. An Upa-Lokayukta is also not a tribunal, although he may have the procedural trappings (as it were) of a tribunal. The final decision rendered by the Upa-Lokayukta, called a report, may not bear the stamp of a judicial decision, as would that of a court or to a lesser extent, a tribunal, but in formulating the report, he is required to consider the point of view of the person complained against and ensure that the investigation reaches its logical conclusion, one way or the other, without any interference and without any fear. Notwithstanding this, the report of the Upa-Lokayukta does not determine the rights of the complainant or the person complained against. Consequently, the Upa-Lokayukta is neither a court nor a tribunal. Therefore, the Upa-Lokayukta can best be described as a sui generis quasi-judicial authority. An Upa-Lokayukta does function as an adjudicating authority but the Act places him short of a judicial authority. He is much more “judicial” than an investigator or an inquisitorial authority largely exercising administrative or executive functions and powers. Under the circumstances, taking an overall view of the provisions of the Act and the law laid down, the Upa-Lokayukta is a quasi-judicial authority or in any event an authority exercising functions, powers, duties and responsibilities conferred by the Act as a sui generis quasi-judicial authority, Chandrashekaraiah v. Janekere C. Krishna(2013) 3 SCC 117: (2013) 1 SCC (L&S) 826: (2013) 3 SCC (Cri) 347.

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