1.The institution of Lok Ayukta is conceived as an Ombudsman type institution in India. ‘Lok Ayukta’ is a concept originated from the term ‘Ombudsman’, who is the people’s procurator, an officer of the parliament, to investigate into the grievances of the public about administrative wrongs and excesses. Ombudsman in India is conferred with the functions of dealing with the grievances of the people arising out of mal-administration and for fighting against corruption at administrative and political levels.
2.This device of combating mal-administration and corruption have been proved effective particularly because the Indian experience was that mal-administration invariably precedes corruption and both together constituted a great strain on the economy.
3.The Lok Ayukta under the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act, 1999 (Act 8 of 1999) has been constituted for investigating into the allegations of corruption and mal-administration against public servants and for the speedy redressal of grievances of the public.
4.Kerala Lok Ayukta Act is a successor legislation of the Kerala Public Men’s Corruption (Investigations and Inquiries ) Act 1987 (Act 24 of 1988). All public servants from the Chief Minister at the top to members of the panchayat at the bottom are public servants coming within the purview of the Act. Similarly, there are lakhs of such public servants holding public posts and who are answerable to this forum. The Lok Ayukta and Upa Lok Ayuktas appointed under the Act are conferred with solemn functions of investigating into the various acts of omissions and commissions of such public servants.
5.The Act also provides that all public servants are required to submit their statements of assets and liabilities, besides the statements in respect of those of the members of their family, once in two years, before the competent authority, in the forms prescribed by the Rules.
6.The forum is headed by the Lok Ayukta, who must either be a former Judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice of a High Court. Similarly there are two Upa Lok Ayuktas who are former Judges of the High Court. The Lok Ayukta and Upa Lok Ayuktas are appointed on the advice of the Chief Minister in consultation with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and the Leader of the Opposition. Their term of appointment is five years. In the matter of salary and allowances, they are treated on par with sitting Chief Justice and Judges of the High Court, respectively.
7.The registry of the Lok Ayukta is headed by the Registrar who is a District Judge from the Kerala Higher Judicial Service on deputation, and consist of Additional Registrar, Deputy Registrar and such other officers as fixed. The Deputy Registrar is the Information Officer as provided under the Right to Information Act and the Section Officer is the Assistant Information Officer.
8.There is also an Investigation Agency attached to the Lok Ayukta, which consists of an I.G of Police, a Superintendent of Police, Deputy Superintendents etc. The Lok Ayukta can entrust investigation of complaints with any agency as it chooses. From the short experience this institutions has been proved effective in combating corruption in public life.
9.Office of the Lok Ayukta is located at the Legislature complex, Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram. There are regular sittings of Courts on all working days from Monday to Friday, at Thiruvananthapuram. There are also camp sittings on a regular basis at Ernakulam, Kozhikode and Kannur. The office of the Lok Ayukta functions on all working days. Complaints, in prescribed forms, can be filed either at Thiruvananthapuram or at camp sittings. Complaints can be filed through post also, in the following address:
KERALA LOK AYUKTA
VIKAS BHAVAN P.O.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM – 33
10.Camp sittings are conducted at the venues as given below:
(1). Kottayam : Conference Hall, Collectorate.
(2). Ernakulam : Govt. Guest House Conference Hall, Ernakulam.
(3). Kozhikode : Vigilance Tribunal, Kozhikode.
(4). Thalassery : Rest House Conference Hall, Thalassery.
(5). Kannur : Govt. Guest House Conference Hall, Kannur.
11.There is no tall claim that Lok Ayukta could eradicate corruption and mal-administration. But within its limits, it acts as a watch dog. Anyone who is aggrieved or interested in cleansing our public life, can approach the forum boldly. One can approach the forum direct, even without the aid and assistance of a lawyer. There is no formality, no fees; But he must have a genuine case.