Govt set to bring Ordinances on two anti-corruption bills

Govt set to bring Ordinances on two anti-corruption bills

Pushed by Rahul Gandhi, the government looks set to shortly bring ordinances on two anti-corruption bills along with three other legislations which could not be passed during the just-concluded Parliament session.

Sources said ordinances were ready on Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill and Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill.

The proposed ordinances could be brought before the Union Cabinet this week, sources told PTI.

These are among the anti-corruption bills being pushed by Rahul Gandhi to create a "framework" to fight graft.

These proposed legislations could not be passed during the extended Winter Session of Parliament in view of disturbances.

Along with these, the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, Rights of Persons with Disability Bill and Security Laws (Amendment) Bill are also expected to be brought before the Cabinet this week.

According to the Prevention of Corruption Act (Amendment) Bill, an investigating agency will have to seek prior permission from the government before questioning a retired bureaucrat in a corruption case.

The provisions aimed at protecting retired bureaucrats will come into effect only after Parliament gives its nod to the changes in the Prevention of Corruption Act (Amendment) Bill, 1988.

At present, there is no legal provision for investigating agencies to seek prior permissions to quiz a former government employee.

The amended anti-graft bill fixes a time-frame of three months for the government to decide on a probe agency's request seeking sanction for prosecution against government officials.

An additional one month may also be given in case the government needs to consult the Attorney General or the Advocate General.

The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill seeks to promote transparency and accountability in the government's delivery systems for its citizens.

The various governmernt authorities which provide services to the people will be directed to publish a citizens' charter detailing the services they offer, the quality of services to be provided, as well as timelines of delivery.

Penalties ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 50,000 a day will be imposed on officials who fail to deliver services in time.

It mandates the establishment, both at the Centre and in the states, of public grievance redress commissions that will be permitted to refer a case for investigation to the Lokpal wherever there is evidence of corruption.

The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill makes penal provisions extremely tough to deter people committing crime against the SC/ST community. It proposes that common crimes like rape, assault and kidnapping should also be brought under the purview of this act.

Most of these crimes invite punishment of less than 10 years but with amendments crimes like these will invite punishment for more than 10 years. The amendments to Section 3 also define new crimes and add some to the list.

Obstructing use of common property, allegations of witchcraft, preventing entry in place of worship, social economic boycott and promoting enmity are some of the changes which have been added to the list. These crimes will now be considered as cruelty against SC and STs.

The Rights of Persons with Disability Bill seeks to expand the definition of disability from seven to 19 and now includes sickle cell disease, thalassemia and muscular dystrophy besides autism spectrum disorder, blindness, cerebral palsy, chronic neurological conditions and mental illness.

The ordinance seeks to increase reservation for disabled persons in public sector jobs from existing three per cent to five per cent and reserve seats for them in higher educational institutions

The Securities Law (Amendment) Ordinance will also be re-promulgated as it lapsed in January.

Government had recently promulgated the Ordinance twice to grant greater powers to SEBI to check illicit investment schemes and other market manipulations.

A Bill to replace the Ordinance could not be passed during the last Parliament session.

Among others, the Ordinance had given SEBI greater powers to crack down on ponzi schemes, seek call data records to check insider trading and carry out search and seizure operations.

An ordinance to replace a bill which seeks to enhance the pecuniary jurisdiction of civil suits of the Delhi High Court from the existing Rs 20 lakh to Rs 2 crore is also being readied. But there was lack of surety on whether it would be brought before the Union Cabinet.

The Delhi High Court (Amendment) Bill, 2014 introduced in the Rajya Sabha recently aims at reducing workload of the Delhi High Court by transferring thousands of civil suits, valued up to Rs 2 crore, to the nine district courts in Delhi.

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