New Delhi: In a significant development, the Centre on Thursday approved a proposal calling for the formation of special anti-graft cells in all government offices and ministries to check incidence of corruption.
As per report, a decision in this regard was taken during a meeting of the Group of Ministers on Corruption (GoM) headed by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The government has now asked all the Ministries and departments to strengthen their vigilance administration with requisite manpower with a view to ensuring expeditious disposal of disciplinary cases.
As per the GoM recommendation, the concerned Ministeries and departments may consider setting up of a monitoring cell to review the progress of all disciplinary cases on day to day basis.
On September 14, the government had announced several key measures aimed at curbing corruption, including setting up of 71 fast-track special CBI courts, fixing a limit of three months to grant sanction for prosecution and strengthening the vigilance administration.
In a bid to tackle corruption and to fast track cases of public servants accused of graft, the GoM had suggested eliminating certain tiers in consultation process. These steps are part of a series of measures accepted by the government for immediate implementation following the recommendations made by the GoM.
The government’s decisions came in the wake 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 could escape proceedings for minor penalty. The GoM has decided that mere superannuation should not be a ground for dropping proceedings for minor penalty.
A cut in pension upto 10 per cent 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 per cent 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. The GoM also decided to make the departments and ministries to primarily use serving officers as Inquiry and Presenting Officers in one of the steps towards speeding up the inquiry proceedings.
In important cases, the officers may request the Central Vigilance Commission to appoint their Commissioner of Direct Inquiries as IO. The GoM has also opined that 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 said that it was imperative that sanction should be decided expeditiously and within the prescribed time-frame of three months.
The GoM 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 take a decision within three 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 seven 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 three months should be explained.
The Government had, on 6th January. 2011, constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to consider measures that can be taken by the Government to tackle corruption.