Govt’s five-bill formula to tackle corruption

In a decisive push in the fight against corruption, the union government is readying five bills for introduction in the Winter Session of Parliament.

Updated: Nov 03, 2011, 00:30 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: In a decisive push in the fight against corruption, the Union government is readying five bills, including the Lokpal Bill, for introduction in the Winter Session of Parliament.

The five bills are: Lokpal Bill, Citizen’s Charter, Public Grievance Redressal Bill, Whistleblowers Bill and Judicial Accountability Bill. The govt’s move came against the backdrop of Anna Hazare`s call for a fresh anti-corruption campaign.

Addressing a joint press conference here, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said that the government intends to pass the much debated Lokpal Bill in the Winter Session of the Parliament.

Also present at the press conference was Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy who said, "The Citizen`s Right to Grievance Redress Bill, 2011 will be introduced in the Winter Session of the Parliament".

Public Grievance Redressal Bill will look at complaints of violation of the Citizens` Charter to be formulated by each government department, identify liabilities of public servants in case of default and impose penalities for failure to deliver services or redress grievances in a time-bound manner.

At the state and central levels, the law proposes to establish public grievance commissions, to act as quasi-judicial bodies.

Under the proposed law, every public authority will have to designate a Grievance Redress Officer (GRO) right from the block level up to the central government.

The GRO would be empowered to identify the reason for the grievance, fix responsibility on a defaulting office or officer, and recommend penalty or punishment.

If not satisfied, applicants will have the right to appeal against action taken by the GRO. The proposed bill has the provision to impose a penalty on the GRO if any complaint is not addressed in a stipulated timeframe.

Talking about the modalities of the Bill, Ramesh said the draft makes it compulsory for every ministry and department to act within 15 days on complaints from the public, failing which an appeal could be filed with a higher authority. This authority will have to dispose off the appeal within 30 days.

“Government will appoint 5 lakh officers across the country to monitor public grievances,” he said.

The law will set up a mechanism similar to the Right to Information (RTI) Act, and seek to have a "Citizens` Charter" to deal with public grievances, the Rural Development Minister said.
“The proposed legislation would be another landmark in the rights-based approach followed by the UPA-II,” he said.

Ramesh has been coordinating with the Department of Personnel and Training in finalising the draft Bill.

“The Bill seeks to cover all the schemes and departments of the Central Government and provide a platform to state governments to implement a similar mechanism for their schemes,” informed Narayanasamy.

Narayanasamy said that the bill will ensure an appropriate decentralised and citizen-friendly mechanism to redress public grievances.
He said the Bill will be put up on the website of the department of personnel for 21 days for people to give their comments.

On Citizens’ Charter, Ramesh said, “Every public authority will have a Citizens’ Charter which will clearly state the functioning of the public offices. People will have direct access to the officers and can complaint if the government authority fails at any point. Immediate actions will be taken on all such complaints.”