Ombudsman means a delegate, agent, officer or commissioner. Gender defines ombudsman as “an officer of parliament, having as his primary function, the duty of acting as an agent for parliament, for the purpose of safeguarding the citizen against abuse or misuse of administrative power by the executive “. Administrative law provides for control over the administration by an outside agency, strong enough to prevent injustice to the individual, at the same time leaving the administration adequate freedom to enable it to carry on effective government. In every progressive system of administration, there is need of a mechanism for handling grievances against administrative fault Ombudsman is one of such machinery.

      The parliamentary and judicial control on the administrative action is very week, except there is a statutory provision for an administrative tribunal. There is no means for handling grievance against misconduct, inefficiency, delay, negligence, etc .against the officials. The natural remedy open to the aggrieved person, in such cases, is for him to persuade the minister if he is accessible to the aggrieved person, or to draw his attention by raising question in parliament to which he is responsible .but in practice it is difficult .even the parliamentary remedy is also not adequate. It was felt necessary to have alternative or additional institution to control wrong decision, maladministration or corruption of public officials. the ombudsman is one of such principle alternative provided for.

 Origin of Ombudsman - 

        Ombudsman first introduced in Sweden by King Charles XII  on 18th century.  It is also practiced by Finland in 1919, Denmark in 1953, Norway in 1963, New Zealand in 1962, US 1960 and UK 1967.

Meaning of Ombudsman

        Ombudsman is an appointed official whose duty is to investigate complaints, generally on behalf of individuals such as consumers or taxpayers, against Institutions such as companies and government departments.

         Ombudsman means the “grievance man” or a “commissioner of administration “.

Garner -

            According to Garner, he is an officer of parliament having as his primary function, the duty of acting as an agent for the parliament for the purpose of safeguarding the citizen against abuse or misuse of administrative power by the executive.

Characteristics of ombudsman

 Independence - It is a body that assists with fair and expeditious resolution of complaints in an impartial confidential and independent manner.

Impartiality and fairness - It works impartially

 Credibility - It maintains its Credibility

 Confidentiality -

Prof S.K. Agrawal

                According to Professor SK Agrawal, the term ombudsman refers only to institute, which have three basic and unique characteristic which are as follows -

 i) Ombudsman refers only is an independent and non-partisan officer of the legislature who supervise the administration.

ii) He deals with specific complaints from the public against administrative injustice and maladministration.

iii) He has the power to investigate, criticize and report back to the legislature, but not to reserve administrative action.

Importance/need of Ombudsman - 

a) Powers and Duties of Ombudsman -   

             A) Ombudsman is a watchdog of the administration or the protector of the little man ombudsman inquires and investigates all complaints made by the citizen against the abuse of discretionary power,mal administration inefficiency and take appropriate actions . for that purpose very wide power has been given to him . he has access to departmental files. the complainant is not required to lead any evidence before the ombudsman to prove his case he is empowered to grant relief to the aggrieved person . his function is to satisfy himself whether the complaint is justified or unjustified .he can act even suo-moto .these power are not limited like the powers of civil court. he is responsible and responsive to people

          B) Nature/Status of an ombudsman is judge or lawyer or a high officer and his character, reputation and integrity are above board. he is appointed by the parliament and sets out the reaction of the citizen against the administration .he makes his own recommendation to eliminate the cause of complaints .ombudsman is thus a strong position to redress individual grievances arising out of bad administration.

Defects in Ombudsman - 

          I) It is argued that this institution may prove successful in those countries which have a comparatively small population, but it may not prove very useful in populous countries like United States of America or India as the number of complaints may be too large for a single man to dispose of.
         II) It is also said the success of the institution of ombudsman in Denmark owes a great deal to the personality of its first ombudsman professor Hurwitz. He took a keen interest in the complaints made to him and investigated them personally . prestige and personal contact would be lost if there are a number of such officers, or if there is a single officer who has always to depends upon a large staff and subordinate officers.

        III) According to Mukherjee, J. in India this institute is not suitable .he describe it as “an accusatorial (implying accusation ) and inquisitorial(like and inquisitor) institution –a combination unprecedented in a democracy with traditions of an independent judiciary “. It is an impracticable and disastrous experiment’ which will not fit into the Indian constitution.

See also...

1. Discuss the Role of Administrative Law in a Democratic State?

2. What is Administrative Law and utility of Administrative Law

3. Distinction/Difference between Remedial Statute and Penal Statute

4. Distinction/Difference between Codifying Statutes and consolidating Statutes

5. Summary Suits : Provisions regarding Summary Suit (Order 37 of the Civil Procedure Code)


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