Government Accepted the Recommendations of GoM on Corruption

The Government has accepted the recommendations made by the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Corruption in its First Report, aimed at fast-tracking of cases against public servants accused of corruption.

The Government had, on 6th January. 2011. constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to consider measures that can be taken bythe Government to tackle corruption, under the chairmanship of Union Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee. The terms of reference of the GoM were as under:-

(i) To consider all measures, including legislative and administrative, to tackle corruption and improve transparency;

(ii) In particular, the GoM may consider and advise on the following:-

(a) State funding of elections:

(b) Fast tracking of all cases of public servants accused of corruption:

(c) Ensuring full transparency in public procurement and contracts. including enunciation of public procurement standards and a public procurement policy:

(d) Relinquishing discretionary powers enjoyed by Ministers at the Centre:

(e) Introduction of an open and competitive system of exploiting natural resources:

(f) Amendment to Article 311 of the Constitution to provide for summary proceedings in cases of grave misdemeanor or blatant corruption by public servants: and

(g) Consideration of relevance/need for section 6(A) of the Delhi Special Establishment Act, 1946.

The Group of Ministers had submitted its First Report to the Government in April. 201 1. After due consideration by DoPT, Cabinet Secretariat and PMO, the Government has, on Tuesday, accepted the recommendations made by the GoM in its First Report with minor changes.

These decisions, which cover items (ii)(b), (ii)(f) and (ii)(g) of the term of reference (ToR) of the GOM, are as follows:-

(a) Dispensing with the Second Stage Advice of the Central Vigilance Commission. (However, in those cases where consultation with UPSC is not required under the extant rules, the second stage consultation with CVC should continue.)

(b) Departments/ Ministries should primarily use serving officers as Inquiry Officers (IDs) & Presenting Officers (POs) and in important cases, they may request CVC to appoint their Commissioners for Departmental Inquiries (GDIs) as lOs. CVC to maintain a panel of lOs/POs from amongst retired Government officers after due process of screening and empanelment. These officers could be engaged on advice of the CVC.

(c) In all cases where the Investigating Agency has requested sanction for prosecution, it will be mandatory for the competent authority to take a decision within a period of 3 months from receipt of request, and pass a Speaking Order, giving reasons for the decision. In the event of refusal of sanction to prosecute, the competent authority will have to submit its order including reasons for refusal, to the next higher authority for information within 7 days. Wherever the Minister-in-charge of the Department is the competent authority and he decides to deny the permission, it would be incumbent on the Minister to submit, within 7 days of passing such order denying the permission, to the Prime Minister for information. Further, it will be the responsibility of the Secretary of each Department/Ministry to monitor all cases where a request has been made for permission to prosecute. Secretaries should submit a certificate every month to the Cabinet Secretary to the effect that no case is pending for more than 3 months and, in case any such request is pending, the reasons for suchpendency and the level where it is pending may also be explained.

(d) Expediting the setting up of Special CBI Courts already sanctioned by Central Government, by actively pursuing the matter with the State Governments;

(e) Setting up of a Committee headed by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court and having as its Members, a retired CVC, retired Director of CBI and another person of impeccable reputation who could be drawn from the Civil Society, to look into old CBI cases which are pending for more than 10 years, particularly those under the Prevention of Corruption Act and suggest ways for their speedy disposal, including withdrawal, if need be.

(f) Strengthening of vigilance administration of Central Ministries/Departments and, in particular, the strengthening of vigilance wing of the Department of Personnel and Training, with requisite manpower to ensure effective monitoring of vigilance matters.

(g)Continuation of minor penalty proceedings against public servants even after retirement with provision for a ceiling of 10% cut in pension for a period not exceeding five years. Such cut in pension in minor penalty proceedings would, however, be non-mandatory.

(h)Change in the present penalty of 'compulsory retirement' (with full pension) to 'compulsory retirement with a cut in pension upto 20%".

Necessary follow up action for implementing these decisions, by way of amendment of rules, etc., is expected to be taken shortly.

As regards relinquishment of discretionary powers enjoyed by the Ministers at the Centre, the GoM had reviewed the information furnished by various Ministries/Departments and had observed that the exercise of such discretionary powers, such as nomination of members/experts to various boards, etc, were generally found to be governed by guidelines in most of the Ministries/Departments and has recommended that wherever such guidelines have not been framed, clear cut guidelines for exercise of these discretionary powers be framed by the concerned Ministry/Department and put in the public domain.

In another significant development, the GoM, in its meeting held on Tuesday, 06-09-2011, considered the recommendations made by a Committee of Secretaries on the Report submitted by an Expert Committee on "Public Procurement" and accepted the recommendations of the COS to come out with an all encompassing "Public Procurement Bill" in the Parliament by the end of the current year, as promised by the Hon'ble Prime Minister from the ramparts of Red Fort on 15th August, 2011.

The GoM further recommended that the Law may contain the broad principles governing public procurements, ensuring transparency and accountability but at same time providing for due independence and flexibility for the procuring agencies. The GoM further suggested that the rule making exercise may be undertaken in parallel with the drafting of the proposed legislation covering different aspects of procurement of goods, services, pharma drugs and works. The GoM also suggested that the exercise of framing of rules and standardisation of documents for PPP projects may also be undertaken concurrently, so that the system is in readiness and is prepared for implementation of the new legislation without any loss of time.

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