Centre puts its best foot forward in fighting graft

Last Updated 14 September 2011, 19:10 IST

Disclosing the Centre’s intentions in taking steps to curb corruption, Union Law Minister Salman Khursheed and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V Narayanasami said the government has accepted the recommendations of a Group of Ministers (GoM) which has suggested fast-tracking cases against public servants accused of graft. By organising a press conference which simply reiterated the measures the Centre has taken so far to fight corruption, the government tried to show that it was alive to the issue of graft.

In another step to make its policies draw suggestions from the public, the government sought comments from the public on the draft food security bill.

The anti-graft measures include doing away with the discretionary powers enjoyed by the ministers at the Centre. The GoM had also recommended changing the present penalty of “compulsory retirement” (with full pension) of public servants to “compulsory retirement with a cut in pension up to 20 per cent”.

As regards minor penalty proceedings, the panel recommended for its continuation with a provision for ceiling of 10 per cent cut in pension for a period not exceeding five years.

In deciding to fast-track all cases against officials charged with corruption, the has made it mandatory for the competent authority to take a decision within a period of three months of receipt of a complaint to pass orders.

In the event of refusal to sanction prosecution, the same with reasons will have to inform the higher authority within seven days.

If the minister is the competent authority and decides to deny permission, he has to submit the same to the prime minister. Also, it will be the responsibility of the secretary of the concerned department/ministry to monitor all cases where a request has been made for permission to prosecute.

The GoM has also recommended expediting the process of setting up of special CBI courts by pursuing the matter with state governments. It wanted the formation of a committee headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court to look in to old CBI cases pending for more than 10 years, particularly under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The government had constituted the GoM, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, in January, 2011 and its first report was accepted by on September 6.

The government on Wednesday sought comments from the public the to draft National Food Security Bill which is available on: http://fcamin.nic.in .

The salient features of the bill, according to a press release, include coverage upto 75 per cent of the rural population (with at least 46 per cent as priority) and 50 per cent of urban (with at least 28 per cent as priority) households.

The proposed entitlement in the bill is 7 kg of foodgrains per person, per month, for priority households at an issue price of Rs 3/2/1 per kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains, respectively.

For general households it is 3 kg at an issue price not exceeding 50% of minimum support price (MSP) of wheat and coarse grains and derived MSP of rice.

Other provisions of the bill include the legal right to take home ration/meal to women, children, special groups, including destitutes and the homeless, emergency and disaster-affected persons, people living in starvation, a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism at the district, state and national levels, and transparency and accountability.

(Published 14 September 2011, 19:10 IST)

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