Govt unveils measures to check bureaucratic corruption
It has also decided to fast track cases of public servants accused of graft by eliminating certain tiers in consultation process, sources said.
These steps are part of a series of measures accepted by the government for immediate implementation following the recommendations made in the first report of the Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The government's decision comes in the midst of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption campaign for a Lokpal Bill that would also cover bureaucratic graft.
Until now, a government servant on the verge of retirement can escape proceedings for minor penalty.
The GoM has now decided that mere superannuation should not be a ground for dropping proceedings for minor penalty.
A cut in pension upto 10 percent may be imposed in case of minor penalty. This cut will have a ceiling of five years as a life-long reduction in pension would come under the category of major penalty.
The existing major penalty of compulsory retirement with full benefits may be changed to compulsory retirement along with a provision that the competent authority may impose upto 20 percent cut in pension.
However, there would be no cut in pension in those cases of compulsory retirement of officers being weeded out for non-performance.
One of the steps towards speeding up the inquiry proceedings is to make the departments and ministries to primarily use serving officers as Inquiry and Presenting Officers.
In important cases, they may request the Central Vigilance Commission to appoint their Commissioner of Direct Inquiries as IO.
The CVC may also maintain a panel of IOs and POs from among retired officers after screening and empanelment. They could also be engaged on the advice of the CVC.
Taking into account that delays in sanction of prosecution of public servants, the GoM felt that it was imperative that sanction should be decided expeditiously and within the prescribed time-frame of 3 months.
The GoM has recommended that in all cases where the investigating agency has sought sanction for prosecution and submitted a charge sheet along with it, the competent authority will have to mandatorily take a decision within 3 months from the receipt of the request and pass a 'speaking order' with reasons.
If the permission is refused by the competent authority, the request should go to the next higher authority and if it is the minister and he too refuses he should submit the order within 7 days to the Prime Minister.
The Secretary of each ministry and department will monitor all cases where a request has been made for permission to prosecute and submit a certificate every month to the Cabinet Secretary to the effect that no case is pending for more than 3 months.
Reasons for pendency of a case for more than 3 months should be explained.
On the government's decision to set up 71 Special CBI courts, of which only 10 are operational, the GoM has decided that the matter of setting up such courts should be taken up actively with the state governments and reviewed on quarterly basis.
It also decided that a Committee may be set up for studying cases which have been pending trial for a long time and make recommendations for speedy disposal or withdrawal of such cases.
There are reportedly more than 2,400 corruption cases pending for over 10 years. The GoM decided that these may be reviewed by a Committee headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court.
Retired CVC, CBI Director and another person of impeccable reputation from civil society could be members of the Committee, which would particularly look at cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
On amendment to Art 311 of the Constitution to provide for summary proceedings in cases of grave misdemeanour or acts of blatant corruption by public servants, it was felt that there was need to strike a balance between fundamental rights of individuals and administrative agencies.
The GoM decided that instead of amending the Constitution the remedy against blatant corruption and grave misdemeanour would lie in a strict and effective implementation of existing laws and not framing of new ones.
In cases of misdemeanour, it was decided that the competent authority will decide the matter within three months of receipt of request and it will give a 'speaking order' with reasons.
In the event of refusal of permission, the reasons should be put up to the next higher authority for information within one week. For those above the rank of Joint Secretary, the competent authority will be Minister whose reasons for refusal should be put up to the prime minister.