Showing posts with label APPSC GROUP-1 GENERAL ESSAY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label APPSC GROUP-1 GENERAL ESSAY. Show all posts

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What do you understand by NREGS? What are its main features?

With a view to augment the meagre income sources of the rural households in the country and also to provide assured employment for some part of the year to every needy rural household, the government of India came out with a very novel scheme a couple of years ago, called the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). Conceptually, this Scheme aimed at providing assured employment for at least 100 days to every rural household, whose members were willing to do the work of manual labour within their own Panchayat areas. With a view to ensure that this guarantee scheme actually guaranteed the said number of assured employment to the rural families, the government introduced this scheme along with a central legislation called ‘National Rural Employment Guarantee Act’ (NREGA).
Primarily aimed at reducing the incidence of poverty by supplementing the incomes of the rural and poor households by providing at least 100 days employment, the NREGS is the first scheme of its kind to be implemented with the support of law of the land. Main features of the scheme are: a person or his household is required to be registered with the Block/Panchayat Development Officer of his area, who upon the registration would issue a NREGS Card to the said household. After having registered, the said person or the household must be offered at least 100 days manual work within their own Panchayat area, for which he or other members of his family would get wages as per the minimum wages fixed by the government from time to time.
The Panchayats are required to choose a few works out of an array of permissible works under the Scheme. The Panchayats are further required to execute those works which have at least 60 per cent labour component, so that maximum number of people are provided with employment. It is also provided in the NREGA that in case after registration, someone is not invited to work on any of the works being executed in his Panchayat area, the said person or the household is entitled to get the wages for 100 days even without working. 
NREGS is a landmark scheme of the government of India. More than just the rural employment generation, it gives a clear signal that the government is committed to the resolve of assisting the people in the rural areas to overcome the handicap of poverty. At the same time, the rural areas would get some assets created that would result in improvement of the quality of life in villages.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Women Empowerment

Power is a relational dynamic between individuals or between groups of people and is often unequally distributed.This inequality results in control or domination.The pattern in which power is distributed in a society or the power structure of society is strengthened by the force of tradition ,values,history and by the prevalent ways of thinking and behaving.Any effort to change the balance of power entails change in the existing power structure.
Women's empowerment is the process by which women negotiate a more equitable distribution of power , a greater space in the critical decision making processes in the home ,in the community and in the economic and political life.The aim of empowerment of women is the fuller and wholesome development of both men and women. Empowerment of women is anti-men.It is against patriarchy.Changes in law pertaining to marriage ,property,sexual harassment ,dowry,rape and other forms of violence,so as to bring in laws favouring or supporting women's empowerment are necessary but not enough.Enabling women to actually access to the benefits of appropriate laws is the key task of the empowerment process.
The process of empowerment which seeks an equitable and active share for women has to deal with the burden of ideas and values which are passed on to women as part of their socialisation process from their very childhood.This social conditioning becomes part of her person and mindset and influences her behaviour.The empowerment process must begin with women changing their own ways of thinking and behaving .They must try to appreciate themselves more and to recognise and value their knowledge and skills and their contribution of the sustainability of the households and the community.
Women then,must wage a multi-prolonged battle at many levels and this battle has necessarily to begin with the women themselves at a personal and individual level .As the empowerment process advances ,men loose their traditional power and control over women and this process must begin within the family.Women setting out to empower themselves must be aware and also prepared for the backlash they might have to face from the men who suddenly find themselves losing their traditional power and control.The road to empowerment is long,lonely and often frightening.In fact ,the struggle is the process of empowerment.In recent decades, while individual women have been waging a very personal struggle ,they have not been alone.Women within communities ,within countries and across the globe have been linking within one another to expand and to sharpen their efforts for their own empowerment.

Economic Empowerment of women:

Poverty Eradication: Since women comprise the majority of the population below the poverty line and are very often in situations of extreme poverty, given the harsh realities of intra-household and social discrimination, macro economic policies and poverty eradication programmes will specifically address the needs and problems of such women. There will be improved implementation of programmes which are already women oriented with special targets for women. Steps will be taken for mobilization of poor women and convergence of services, by offering them a range of economic and social options, along with necessary support measures to enhance their capabilities
Micro Credit: In order to enhance women’s access to credit for consumption and production, the establishment of new, and strengthening of existing micro-credit mechanisms and micro-finance institution will be undertaken so that the outreach of credit is enhanced. Other supportive measures would be taken to ensure adequate flow of credit through extant financial institutions and banks, so that all women below poverty line have easy access to credit.
Women and Economy: Women’s perspectives will be included in designing and implementing macro-economic and social policies by institutionalizing their participation in such processes. Their contribution to socio-economic development as producers and workers will be recognized in the formal and informal sectors (including home based workers) and appropriate policies relating to employment and to her working conditions will be drawn up. Such measures could include:
Women and Agriculture: In view of the critical role of women in the agriculture and allied sectors, as producers, concentrated efforts will be made to ensure that benefits of training, extension and various programmes will reach them in proportion to their numbers. The programmes for training women in soil conservation, social forestry, dairy development and other occupations allied to agriculture like horticulture, livestock including small animal husbandry, poultry, fisheries etc. will be expanded to benefit women workers in the agriculture sector.
Women and Industry: The important role played by women in electronics, information technology and food processing and agro industry and textiles has been crucial to the development of these sectors. They would be given comprehensive support in terms of labour legislation, social security and other support services to participate in various industrial sectors.
Women at present cannot work in night shift in factories even if they wish to. Suitable measures will be taken to enable women to work on the night shift in factories. This will be accompanied with support services for security, transportation etc.

Social Empowerment of Women:

Education: Equal access to education for women and girls will be ensured. Special measures will be taken to eliminate discrimination, universalize education, eradicate illiteracy, create a gender-sensitive educational system, increase enrolment and retention rates of girls and improve the quality of education to facilitate life-long learning as well as development of occupation/vocation/technical skills by women. Reducing the gender gap in secondary and higher education would be a focus area. Sectoral time targets in existing policies will be achieved, with a special focus on girls and women, particularly those belonging to weaker sections including the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes/Minorities. Gender sensitive curricula would be developed at all levels of educational system in order to address sex stereotyping as one of the causes of gender discrimination.
Health: A holistic approach to women’s health which includes both nutrition and health services will be adopted and special attention will be given to the needs of women and the girl at all stages of the life cycle. The reduction of infant mortality and maternal mortality, which are sensitive indicators of human development, is a priority concern. This policy reiterates the national demographic goals for Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) set out in the National Population Policy 2000. Women should have access to comprehensive, affordable and quality health care. Measures will be adopted that take into account the reproductive rights of women to enable them to exercise informed choices, their vulnerability to sexual and health problems together with endemic, infectious and communicable diseases such as malaria, TB, and water borne diseases as well as hypertension and cardio-pulmonary diseases. The social, developmental and health consequences of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases will be tackled from a gender perspective.
Nutrition: Intra-household discrimination in nutritional matters vis-à-vis girls and women will be sought to be ended through appropriate strategies. Widespread use of nutrition education would be made to address the issues of intra-household imbalances in nutrition and the special needs of pregnant and lactating women. Women’s participation will also be ensured in the planning, superintendence and delivery of the system.
Violence against women: All forms of violence against women, physical and mental, whether at domestic or societal levels, including those arising from customs, traditions or accepted practices shall be dealt with effectively with a view to eliminate its incidence. Institutions and mechanisms/schemes for assistance will be created and strengthened for prevention of such violence , including sexual harassment at work place and customs like dowry; for the rehabilitation of the victims of violence and for taking effective action against the perpetrators of such violence. A special emphasis will also be laid on programmes and measures to deal with trafficking in women and girls.
Rights of the Girl Child: All forms of discrimination against the girl child and violation of her rights shall be eliminated by undertaking strong measures both preventive and punitive within and outside the family. These would relate specifically to strict enforcement of laws against prenatal sex selection and the practices of female foeticide, female infanticide, child marriage, child abuse and child prostitution etc. Removal of discrimination in the treatment of the girl child within the family and outside and projection of a positive image of the girl child will be actively fostered. There will be special emphasis on the needs of the girl child and earmarking of substantial investments in the areas relating to food and nutrition, health and education, and in vocational education. In implementing programmes for eliminating child labour, there will be a special focus on girl children.
Mass Media: Media will be used to portray images consistent with human dignity of girls and women. The Policy will specifically strive to remove demeaning, degrading and negative conventional stereotypical images of women and violence against women. Private sector partners and media networks will be involved at all levels to ensure equal access for women particularly in the area of information and communication technologies. The media would be encouraged to develop codes of conduct, professional guidelines and other self regulatory mechanisms to remove gender stereotypes and promote balanced portrayals of women and men.

Operational Strategies:

Institutional Mechanisms: National and State Resource Centres on women will be established with mandates for collection and dissemination of information, undertaking research work, conducting surveys, implementing training and awareness generation programmes, etc. These Centers will link up with Women’s Studies Centres and other research and academic institutions through suitable information networking systems.While institutions at the district level will be strengthened, at the grass-roots, women will be helped by Government through its programmes to organize and strengthen into Self-Help Groups (SHGs) at the Anganwadi/Village/Town level. The women’s groups will be helped to institutionalize themselves into registered societies and to federate at the Panchyat/Municipal level. These societies will bring about synergistic implementation of all the social and economic development programmes by drawing resources made available through Government and Non-Government channels, including banks and financial institutions and by establishing a close Interface with the Panchayats/ Municipalities.
Resource Management:
  1. Assessment of benefits flowing to women and resource allocation to the programmes relating to them through an exercise of gender budgeting. Appropriate changes in policies will be made to optimize benefits to women under these schemes;
  2. Adequate resource allocation to develop and promote the policy outlined earlier based on (a) above by concerned Departments.
  3. Developing synergy between personnel of Health, Rural Development, Education and Women & Child Development Department at field level and other village level functionaries’
  4. Meeting credit needs by banks and financial credit institutions through suitable policy initiatives and development of new institutions in coordination with the Department of Women & Child Development.
Women’s Component Plan: The strategy of Women’s Component Plan adopted in the Ninth Plan of ensuring that not less than 30% of benefits/funds flow to women from all Ministries and Departments will be implemented effectively so that the needs and interests of women and girls are addressed by all concerned sectors. The Department of Women and Child Development being the nodal Ministry will monitor and review the progress of the implementation of the Component Plan from time to time, in terms of both quality and quantity in collaboration with the Planning Commission.
  1. Strict enforcement of all relevant legal provisions and speedy redressal of grievances will be ensured, with a special focus on violence and gender related atrocities.
  2. Measures to prevent and punish sexual harassment at the place of work, protection for women workers in the organized/ unorganized sector and strict enforcement of relevant laws such as Equal Remuneration Act and Minimum Wages Act will be undertaken,
  3. Crimes against women, their incidence, prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution will be regularly reviewed at all Crime Review fora and Conferences at the Central, State and District levels. Recognised, local, voluntary organizations will be authorized to lodge Complaints and facilitate registration, investigations and legal proceedings related to violence and atrocities against girls and women.
  4. Women’s Cells in Police Stations, Encourage Women Police Stations Family Courts, Mahila Courts, Counselling Centers, Legal Aid Centers and Nyaya Panchayats will be strengthened and expanded to eliminate violence and atrocities against women.
  5. Widespread dissemination of information on all aspects of legal rights, human rights and other entitlements of women, through specially designed legal literacy programmes and rights information programmes will be done.
Gender Sensitization:
  1. Promoting societal awareness to gender issues and women’s human rights.
  2. Review of curriculum and educational materials to include gender education and human rights issues
  3. Removal of all references derogatory to the dignity of women from all public documents and legal instruments.
  4. Use of different forms of mass media to communicate social messages relating to women’s equality and empowerment.
Partnership with the voluntary sector organizations: The involvement of voluntary organizations, associations, federations, trade unions, non-governmental organizations, women’s organizations, as well as institutions dealing with education, training and research will be ensured in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and review of all policies and programmes affecting women. Towards this end, they will be provided with appropriate support related to resources and capacity building and facilitated to participate actively in the process of the empowerment of women.
Women Reservation Bill: Reservation for women at each level of legislative decision-making, starting with the Lok Sabha, down to state and local legislatures.If the Bill is passed, one-third of the total available seats would be reserved for women in national, state, or local governments.In continuation of the existing provisions already mandating reservations for scheduled caste and scheduled tribes, one-third of such SC and ST candidates must be women. Political pundits, sociologists, political scientists, feminists and historians and almost everybody has said that if the bill becomes an act then it will be the biggest socio-political news since independence.
The central government cleared the Bill on February 25, 2010. For such a bill to pass, the Constitution has laid out an elaborate procedure. So, even if the Rajya Sabha passes the bill its real impact will be felt only when it passes through the Lok Sabha.On March 8, it's difficult to say how the government will manage order in the Upper House so that members favouring the bill can vote without disruption or chaos created by opposing members.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Joint Statement of the Eighth BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change

The eighth BASIC Ministerial Meeting  on climate change took  place in Inhotim, Minas Gerais, on the 26th and 27th of August 2011. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Minister of External Relations of Brazil,  Izabella Teixeira, Minister for the Environment of Brazil, Maite Nkoana- Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa as  incoming COP President, Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and  Environmental Affairs of South Africa, Xie Zhenhua, Vice-Chairman of  the National Development and Reform Commission of China, and J.M.  Mauskar, Special Secretary  for  Environment and Forests of India attended the meeting. In line with the “BASIC-plus” approach, Argentina  as chair of the G77 and China was invited.

Durban outcome
Ministers reiterated the importance of achieving a comprehensive,  balanced and ambitious result in Durban in the context of sustainable  development and in accordance with the provisions and principles of the  Convention, in particular the principles of equity and common but  differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and the Bali  Road Map. This result must fully cover negotiations under the two tracks  of the UNFCCC:  the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments  for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto  Protocol (AWG-KP) and  the Ad  Hoc Working Group on Long Term  Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA).  They emphasized that Durban must advance all aspects of the  negotiations, including the establishment of Annex I commitments for the  second commitment period of the  Kyoto Protocol and comparable commitments by non-Kyoto Protocol Annex I parties, the  operationalization of Cancun decisions and  resolving pending issues not  concluded in Cancun. Ministers emphasized the centrality of adaptation  and means of implementation as part of a balanced and comprehensive  outcome. These are elements needed to ensure balance in the completion  of the Bali Road Map and Bali Action Plan. Ministers underlined that
agreeing on the second commitment period is the central priority for  Durban, as failure in this regard  would generate a challenge to  multilateralism and would undermine  the rules based multilateral  response to climate change under the UNFCCC. Ministers reiterated their  support for a transparent and inclusive preparatory process to ensure that  Durban takes a major step forward in working towards the perspective of  a comprehensive, ambitious, fair and effective outcome, ensuring the full,  effective and sustained implementation of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto  Protocol.

Kyoto Protocol 
Ministers reaffirmed that the Kyoto Protocol is a cornerstone of the  climate change regime. They underscored the role of the Kyoto Protocol  in ensuring deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from developed  countries  commensurate with the  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate  Change (IPCC) \ assessments and the 2°C goal recognized in Cancun.  They stressed that the continuation of the flexibility mechanisms of the  Kyoto Protocol, in particular the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM),  is contingent upon the establishment of quantified emission reduction  commitments  by Annex I Parties under the second commitment period.  They urged Parties to the Kyoto Protocol to work constructively to ensure  that there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods.  Ministers emphasized that the perspective of Annex I Parties leaving the  Kyoto Protocol to present their mitigation contribution under the AWG- LCA can only be the reflection of reduced political will to cut their  greenhouse gas emissions. It is hardly conceivable that a country would  leave the Kyoto Protocol to do more.  

Pending issues to be concluded
Taking note of India´s submission  of items to be added to the  provisional agenda of the COP, Ministers underlined the importance of  addressing pending issues which  must be advanced in Durban. This is  essential to generate the necessary balance in the climate change  negotiations.

Cancun operationalization
Ministers also called for the early operationalization of all the  institutions agreed to in Cancun, including the registry for  nationally  appropriate mitigation actions and international  support; the Adaptation
Committee; the Technology Executive Committee, Centre and Network; and the Green Climate Fund, which must provide significant means of  implementation for immediate action  to tackle climate change. They
highlighted that the extent to which developing countries can implement  their actions is dependent on the extent to which developed countries  fulfill their commitment to provide  sufficient financing, technological  support and capacity building for both mitigation and adaptation.

Green Climate Fund
Ministers stressed the importance of ensuring appropriate overview  of the Green Climate Fund by the Conference of the Parties, in order to  ensure its adequate management and timely disbursements to developing  countries. They emphasized that  the Transitional Committee should  interact with, and be guided by the AWG-LCA.

Ministers considered work by BASIC experts on a common  reporting format for rigorous, robust and transparent accounting of finance by Annex I Parties. A common reporting format for finance is a  priority for Durban to enable accounting of performance against the  delivery of the quantified finance target of US$ 100 billion per year by  2020. Ministers also underlined the importance of ensuring the scaling up  of financing up to and beyond 2020. They  reiterated the need to ensure  that accounting of finance by all developed countries be consistent,  complete, comparable, transparent and accurate. Ministers also stressed
the importance of detailed and comprehensive information on fast start  financial flows provided by developed countries, which should be made  available officially. They reaffirmed their view that the UNFCCC
Secretariat should publish information on funding already disbursed  under fast start financing, as this relates to a multilateral commitment.
Ministers also reflected on BASIC expert discussions on  measuring, reporting and verifying Annex I mitigation. They underscored  the need for stringent common accounting rules, with a view to ensuring transparency and comparability of mitigation commitments by all  developed countries. They stressed that the rules of the Kyoto Protocol  are the reference for the efforts undertaken by all developed countries in this area. They expressed the  importance of operationalizing the  transparency arrangements by developing countries, based on existing  provisions under the Convention. They pointed out the robust  contribution already offered by developing countries in emission  reductions, which demonstrates a higher  level of effort in comparison to  mitigation by developed country Parties.

 Equitable access to sustainable development
Ministers welcomed the work undertaken by BASIC experts on “a  framework for equitable access to sustainable development”, as requested  at the 6th BASIC Ministerial Meeting. This work will serve as a valuable  contribution to the body of scientific knowledge informing policy  development.

 Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+)
 Ministers recognized the importance of enhancing action to reduce  emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, enhance removals  by forests and sustainable forestry management practices, on the basis of
scaled up international financing and technology transfer. They also  underlined important additional benefits that REDD+ can offer to  sustainable development in areas such as biodiversity protection.

 Dangers of unilateralism
 Ministers expressed their concern with unilateral climate change  measures, planned or implemented, which generate negative impacts on  other countries. They expressed their strong concern with the decision of  the European Union to include the aviation sector in the EU Emission  Trading System, including flights to and from its territory by non- european companies
 G77 and China
Ministers emphasized the importance of G77 and China unity and  its key role in climate change  negotiations. They noted the clear  demonstrations by the G77 and China of leadership  and willingness to contribute to a strong global effort. They decided to maintain the  “BASIC-plus” approach, in order to enhance the transparency of its  meetings. They also praised the  role played by the South African  incoming COP Presidency and its efforts to organize inclusive, high-level  consultations on climate change, which will contribute to a successful and  ambitious outcome in Durban.

Rio +20
The Ministers also had an opportunity to discuss the perspective  for the Rio+20 Conference in 2012. In this regard, they stressed the  important role of BASIC countries in ensuring success of Rio+20, as well  as the Durban Conference on Climate Change and the New Delhi  Conference on Biodiversity. This is a clear sign of their firm commitment  to advance multilateral solutions to global problems.
Ninth Meeting of Ministers
Ministers welcomed the offer  of China to host the Ninth BASIC  Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change on the 31st  of October and the 1st of November. A meeting of experts will be held alongside this Ministerial meeting.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

National e-Governance Plan (NeGP)

To bring the benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the last mile to ensure transparent, timely and hassle free delivery of citizen services, Government of India has initiated e-Governance programme in country in the late 1990s. After that, Union Government has approved the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), comprising of 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and 8 components on May 18, 2006 to give a boost to e-Governance initiatives in India. Department of Information Technology (DIT) and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DAR&PG) has formulated the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP).
Vision of National e-Governance Plan
National e-Governance Plan has been launched with the aim of improving delivery of Government services to citizens and businesses is guided by the following vision:
“Make all Public Services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common man.”
The vision statement clearly underlines these priorities of the Government in fostering good governance:
Accessibility: The vision has been designed keeping the rural population in mind. The need is to reach those sections of the society which have remained tangential to the government sphere due to various reasons like geographical challenges and lack of awareness. National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) has a provision for State Wide Area Network (SWAN) to connect all the government offices upto the block level and Common Service Centres (CSCs) for accessing the citizens from the rural areas.
Common Service Delivery Outlets: At present, citizens especially those living in remote rural areas have to travel long distances to avail a service through a government department or its local offices. This is time-consuming and costly affairs for a common man to access citizen services. To overcome this problem, as a part of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) vision, one computer and internet enabled Common Service Centre (CSC) is envisaged to set up for every six villages so that Villagers can easily avail these services. These Common Service Centres (CSCs) are envisaged to offer online Integrated Service Delivery on ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ basis.
Adopting e-Governance for improving the Governance: The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will enable government to reach citizens thereby improving governance. This will also enable improvement in monitoring and implementing of various government schemes thereby increasing the accountability and transparency in government.
Improve the quality of life of citizens: e-Governance would help in attaining this objective through the provision of citizen centric service delivery at nominal cost, and thereby providing better turnaround times and convenience in demanding and availing services.
Hence, the vision is to use e-Governance as the route for governments to strengthen good governance. All services provided through the various e-Governance initiatives are expected to assist the governments at the Central and State levels in reaching the yet ‘unreached’ and enable involvement and empowerment of marginalized groups through their participation in the government processes thereby contributing towards poverty reduction and bridging the sharp social and economic divide.
Implementation Strategy for National e-Governance Plan
A prudent approach, therefore, is proposed for the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), which is based on lessons learnt from the past and experiences from successful e-Governance applications that have been implemented nationally and internationally. The approach and methodology adopted for National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) contains the following elements:
Common Infrastructure: National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) implementation involves setting up of common and support IT infrastructure such as: State Wide Area Networks (SWANs), State Data Centres (SDCs), Common Services Centres (CSCs) and Electronic Service Delivery Gateways.
Governance: Suitable arrangements for monitoring and coordinating the implementation of National e-Governance Plan under the direction of the competent authorities have been set up. The programme also involves evolving/ laying down standards and policy guidelines, providing technical support, undertaking capacity building, Research and Development etc. Department of Information Technology (DIT) strengthens itself and various institutions like National Informatics Centre (NIC), Standardization, Testing and Quality Certification (STQC), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), National Institute for Smart Governance (NISG) etc., to play these roles effectively.
Centralized Initiative, Decentralized Implementation: e-Governance is being promoted through a centralized initiative to the extent necessary to ensure citizen-centric orientation, realize the objective of inter-operability of various e-Governance applications and ensure optimal utilization of Information and Communication Technology infrastructure and resources while allowing for a decentralized implementation model. It also aims at identifying successful projects and replicating them with required customization wherever needed.
Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) model: It has to be adopted wherever feasible to enlarge the resource pool without compromising on the security aspects.
Integrative elements: Adoption of unique identification codes for citizens, businesses and property is to be promoted to facilitate integration and avoid ambiguity.
Implementation Framework for National e-Governance Plan (NeGP)
Considering the multiplicity of agencies involved in the implementation of National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) and the need for overall aggregation and integration at the national level, it has been decided to implement National e-Governance Plan as a programme, with well-defined roles and responsibilities of each agency involved and to create an appropriate programme management structure and it has already been approved by government. The key components and features of the programme management structure are given in the graphic.
The Strategy for Service Delivery
A common digital service delivery infrastructure consisting of the State Wide Area Network (SWAN), State Data Centre (SDC), National/State Service Delivery Gateway (NSDG/SSDG), State Portal and Common Services Centre (CSC) are being created in every State and Union Territory to ensure seamless and single-window delivery of public services to the common man.
National e-Governance Division (NeGD)
The Department of Information Technology, Government of India has formed the National e-Governance Division (NeGD) as an autonomous business division within Media Lab Asia, under the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Government of India, for assisting Department of Information Technology in the Programme Management of National e-Governance Plan. National e-Governance Plan supports Department of Information Technology in the following tasks:
  • Facilitating implementation of Mission Mode Projects by Line Ministries/ State Governments,
  • Providing technical assistance to Central Ministries/ State Line Departments,
  • Acting as Secretariat to Apex Committee undertaking technical appraisal of all National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) Projects,
  • Providing State e-Mission Teams to support States in National e-Governance Plan implementation.
Capacity Building
National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is a large and complex endeavor covering 20 central departments, 35 States/ Union Territories and 360 departments across these states/UTs and nearly 500 implementation agencies. In all it is expected to require 70,000 man-years of effort. Therefore, for National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) to achieve its goals, capacity gap that need to be addressed include engaging experts, developing skills and imparting training. Capacity Building scheme is aimed at addressing the above challenges in a holistic manner including support for creation of State e-Governance Mission Teams (SeMT), Project e-Governance Mission Teams (PeMT) and Human Resource management. This scheme is also meant for initiating through various activities like empanelment of candidates, facilitating States in recruitments and providing orientation and sensitization at various levels of leaders/ officers involved in e-Governance project implementation, orientation for State e-Governance Mission Teams (SeMT), and specialized trainings with centralized curriculum and content development for various level of officers at programme and project levels.
It is envisaged to fill in the three specific capacity gaps in the states, in general:
  • Lack of Personnel with appropriate background and aptitude,
  • Inadequate skill sets of personnel already deployed
  • Lack of appropriate institutional framework to handle the specific program

National Green Tribunal

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has been established under the NGT Act, 2010 on 18th October, 2010 is headed by Chairperson L.S. Panta, a Retired Supreme Court Judge. The Tribunal has been established for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. 

The Law Commission in its 186th Report recognised the inadequacies of the existing appellate authorities constituted under various environmental laws and reviewed their position with a view to bring uniformity in their constitution and the scope of their jurisdiction.  The Law Commission undertook the study pursuant to the observations of the Supreme Court regarding the need for constitution of environmental courts. The Law Commission, in its said report, recommended for setting up of environmental courts in each State or for a group of States for exercising all powers of a civil court in its original jurisdiction and with appellate judicial powers against orders passed by the concerned authorities under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991. 

The Law Commission’s Report was considered in the Ministry. In view of the growing environmental challenges, it was decided to set up a green tribunal as a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.

National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

·    The Tribunal has the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. 
·    The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
·    The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher Courts.
·    The Tribunal is mandated to make an endeavor for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
·    Initially, the NGT is proposed to be set up at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible.
·    The Tribunal has the original jurisdiction over all civil cases where a substantial question relating to environment, including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment is involved.  
·    The Tribunal shall hear disputes arising out of the implementation of environmental laws mentioned in Schedule I of the NGT Act, 2010.  
·    The  Government is empowered to add any Act of Parliament having regard to objectives of environmental protection and conservation of natural resources. 
·    The Tribunal is competent to provide relief over and above as is admissible under the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991. 
·    In order to ensure access to justice, pollution control boards and local authorities have also been empowered under the NGT Act to file an application or appeal before the Tribunal on behalf of the affected person. 
·    Appeal against any order of the Tribunal shall lie to the Supreme Court. 
·    No civil court shall have jurisdiction to entertain any appeal in respect of any matter which the Tribunal is empowered to determine under its appellate jurisdiction. 
·    No injunction shall be granted by any civil court or other authority in respect of any order passed by the Tribunal. 
·    Consequent to enforcement of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, the National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 and the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997 have been repealed. The cases pending before the National Environment Appellate Authority at the time of establishment of the National Green Tribunal have been transferred to the National Green Tribunal. 
·    The five places of its sitting are at Delhi, Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai. 
·    Delhi has already been specified as ordinary place of sitting of NGT vide Government of India notification dated 5.5.2011. 
·    The Tribunal at Delhi has already commenced its hearings from 4th July, 2011. 
·    The applicants can file applications/petitions before the Tribunal at Delhi till other benches of the Tribunal become functional. 
·    The infrastructure at the 5 places of sitting of the Tribunal is being set up for making it fully functional. 
·    At present, the Tribunal consists of Chairperson and 3 Expert Members and 2 Judicial Members.  The Expert Members are experts in physical and life sciences, engineering and law including persons having practical knowledge and administrative experience in the field of environmental policy and regulation.  The Ministry is in the process of filling up of the remaining vacancies of Members in the Tribunal since NGT Act, 2010 provides for a minimum of 10 Expert Members and equal number of Judicial Members.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Changing Gears for Rainbow Revolution

In view of the emerging challenges and threats to agriculture sector, vis-à-vis national food security, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed a strategic framework to improve food security, enhance opportunities for inclusive growth, augment competitiveness of Indian agriculture and create adequate and quality human resources to address the concerns. Some of the major concerns include, natural resources degradation, increasing biotic and abiotic pressures, declining input use efficiency, post-harvest losses, decreasing profitability in farming, quality human resource and farm extension. To deal with the challenges effectively, ICAR is coordinating, guiding and managing research, education and extension in agriculture, including horticulture, fisheries and animal sciences, in the country. It has a vast network with 97 ICAR institutes, 54 state agricultural universities; five deemed universities and one Central Agricultural University and 592 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) spread across the country. The research programmes under umbrella of the ICAR are designed and undertaken for harnessing power of science that ensures food, nutrition and livelihood security for all.
The comprehensive initiatives taken by the Council have led to notable accomplishments in natural resource management, input use efficiency, climate resilience, secondary agriculture and economic transformation of farmers through technological interventions. The year 2010-11 has been agriculturally rewarding as we have observed record food grain production touching 242 million tonnes in farm season (July-June) according to the 4th advance estimates released recently. The food grains comprise rice, coarse-cereals and pulses. The record output was largely because of a sharp rise in production of wheat to 86 million tonnes against 81 million tonnes in the year before. The record high oilseed production of 31 million tonnes is another notable accomplishment to cheer. Further, a high production in horticulture, 234.4 million tonnes could also be achieved through policy and technological support.
The bygone year has thrown many challenges also. These include perceptible climate change, as seen by the dry spells in the Eastern India, despite normal rainfalls across the country; degrading land and water environment; need for quality inputs; emerging problem of agricultural labour; and post-harvest losses across the commodities. It was here that the ICAR provided, both directions and solutions, in terms of crop varieties suitable for both drought and submergence; defined elements of fertilizer application, based on the nutrient deficiencies; farm mechanization for both field and horticultural crops; and developed clear estimates of post-harvest losses of various crops and commodities, as the basis for formulating future approaches. The paradigm shift from ‘primary to secondary agriculture’ was focused in our discussions and research process, as was demonstrated through the projects in the value chain component of the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP); that is planned to be further enlarged in the coming years. A parallel development has been the establishment of agri-incubators, a new concept in the Indian agriculture; expected to develop entrepreneurship in a big way. In our efforts at institutionalizing the research extension continuum, the ‘Farm Innovators’ meet held during the year, the second in the series, added a new dimension to our approach of innovative agriculture.
Among new projects, a National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture is a noteworthy one launched with the objective to assess impact of climate change on the agriculture and allied sectors, and for evolving cost-effective adaptation and mitigation strategies. The Project has a budget outlay of Rs 350 crore for XI Plan; out of which Rs 200 crore is allocated for 2010-11, and Rs 150 crore for 2011-12 on the research infrastructure, capacity-building and on-farm demonstrations of available climate-resilient technologies.
During the year 2010-11, 60 varieties/hybrids of crops including major food crops of rice, wheat, maize, pearl millet and pulses were released/ recommended for cultivation in different agro-climatic regions of country. During the year, 629 tonnes of nucleus seed, 9,554 tonnes of breeder seed, 7,745 tonnes of foundation seed, 3,471 tonnes of certified seeds and 10,443 tonnes of truthfully labeled seed were produced for large scale multiplication to ensure timely supply of quality seeds to farmers.      
            To address the problem of decreasing soil and water productivity, the GIS based soil fertility maps, using soil-test data was prepared for 500 districts spread over 21 states of India. The data have revealed that soils of most of the districts have low to medium amount of nitrogen and phosphorus and medium to high amount of potassium. Existing ridge-and-furrow system of irrigation was modified for in-situ rain water harvesting (10% than the earlier 1% of rain), which increased castor yield by 30%. A decision support system was developed for facilitating location specific nutrient management.
With a view to enhance profitability and livelihood security, integrated farming is being promoted in all the ecological regions with the desired technological backstopping. An Integrated Farming System Component Selection Model is found useful for selection of the components of the integrated farming system based on the expected profit under the prevailing constraints, and also for suggesting beneficial components from profit as well as land and water productivity point of view.
To improve the quality and productivity of livestock population, artificial insemination is being standardized and adopted in field situations. Successful pregnancy from artificial insemination with extended semen is reported for the first time in Indian dromedary camels. The first mithun calf was born at farm-gate level through artificial insemination using cryo-preserved semen from genetically superior mithun bulls. Semen collection by ‘Gloved Hand Method’ and AI technique were standardized for pigs, and by using AI technology, highest litter size (15 piglets) at birth was recorded from a Ghungroo sow in the farm.
With repositioning of its approach towards entrepreneurship and livelihood security, the ICAR has made a strong commitment for socio-economic transformation of the Indian rural population. The research programmes, educational initiatives and extension activities have been reoriented to meet the objective. Efforts are being made to ensure free flow of knowledge, crossing all barriers on the way. The ICAR has adopted open-access policy for its highly-rated research journals and other literature of importance. The website ( has transformed into a treasure house of agricultural information and knowledge for various categories of stakeholders. On an average, more than 2, 00,000 visits are recorded per month from around 166 countries reflecting the global presence of Indian agriculture. Consortium for e-Resources in Agriculture (CeRA) is providing free online access to more than 2,900 international journals and 124 libraries of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS). During the year 2010-11, 64 patent applications were filed and 10 were granted making the total as 481 and 58 respectively.
As a special thrust to North-East region, Knowledge Information Repository in Agriculture for North-East has been launched by the ICAR with a mission to empower the agricultural production system of North-East region with right technology and methodology emphasizing innovative approach and solutions. It will act as a platform to foster linkages among partners and collaborate with public, private, state and regional organizations functioning in the region.
Partnerships grew at the national level and also across the globe with the projected Borlaug Institute for South Asia and enhanced Indo-African and India-Afghanistan Fellowships in Agricultural Universities. An ICAR–Industry meet was also convened in New Delhi in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) which received an overwhelming response from the private sector. Twenty-five new Units were added to the existing 220 Units in 49 universities to develop entrepreneurship skills among students. Niche Area of Excellence was also supported at 30 locations to achieve global competence in agricultural research and education.
            Under the ICAR award scheme, two new prestigious awards have been instituted, namely ICAR Norman Borlaug Award and ICAR Challenge Award. The total numbers of awards to be given annually in specific categories have been increased from 13 to 22. Similarly the award money has also been enhanced in most of the categories.
The ICAR has repositioned its approach in the formulation of 12th five year plan to bring a demand driven and technology led revolution in the country. The Council will focus more on the commodities and the areas where private sector would be reluctant to venture. Secondary and specialty agriculture and the strength inter-departmental platforms will be harnessed to sustain the benefits of agricultural research and development. At national level, initiatives such as National Agricultural Education Project, National Agricultural Entrepreneurship Project, National Agricultural Science Foundation and National Agricultural Innovation Foundation have been envisaged to further strengthen and accelerate the process of transformation. However, in all these initiatives the Council is making a forward march with Farmers First approach.
            The research and development programmes during the year have armed ICAR with preparedness to meet future challenges, especially of prospective global climate change vis-à-vis depleting and degrading natural resources. We envision that innovations in agriculture would transform existing slowdown in agriculture sector into a vibrant and competitive sector by harnessing untapped opportunities in domestic and global markets. The Council firmly believes that agricultural research and development would augment farmers’ income, generate employment opportunities, conserve natural resources, restrict imports, promote exports and increase value addition for higher and inclusive agricultural growth.
Appropriately backed by frontier sciences and techniques, a surge in production and productivity of major commodities is on the way to realize the dream of rainbow revolution.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Organic Farming

India is bestowed with considerable potential for organic farming due to prevailing trend of integrated farming systems of crops and live stocks, high bio-diversity on account of diverse agro-climatic conditions and large number of small and marginal farmers. Besides, inherited tradition of low input agriculture in many parts of the country, particularly in hilly and rain-fed areas too, is an added advantage and augurs well for the farmers to shift to organic farming and tap the steadily growing domestic as well as overseas markets.
In rain-fed areas of the country, where usage of chemicals in agriculture is relatively low, there is vast scope for the promotion of organic farming.   In the intensively cultivated irrigated areas too, where usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is considerably high, organic farming practices can help in arresting the decline of organic matter in soil.  Application of organic manure and inter-cropping with legume crops can improve the soil  quality and future agricultural productivity.  In fact, future of sustainable development of agriculture, next to water, depends on preventing the decline in organic matter in soil. Organic farming has an important role to play in ensuring sustainability of agriculture. 
Growth of organic farming
            According to one estimate, about 1.4 million producers are engaged in organic farming in 35 million hectares of agricultural land worldwide. Almost two-thirds of the agricultural land under organic management is grass land.  The cropped area constitutes 8.2 million hectares which is a quarter of total organic agricultural land.  Asia, Latin America and Australasia are important producers and exporters of organic foods. Global sales of organic produce have reached  $ 50.9 billion  in 2008, doubling in value from  $ 25 billion  in 2003.  Consumer demand for organic products is mainly from North America and Europe. 
            In India, from 42,000 hectare under organic certification in 2003-04, organic agriculture has grown many-fold. As on March 2010, more than 4.4 million hectare area was under organic certification in the country.  For quality assurance, India has internationally acclaimed certification process in place for export, import and domestic markets. The National Programme on Organic Production (NPOP) notified under Foreign Trade Development and Regulation Act looks after the country’s export of certified organic produce.  Certification of organic produce under NPOP has already been granted equivalence by European Union and Sweden.      
            During 2008-09, India produced about 18.78 lakh tonnes of certified organic products.  Out of this, nearly 54,000 tonne food items worth Rs. 591 crore were exported.  With more than 77,000 tonnes of organic cotton link production, India became the largest organic cotton grower in the world a year ago.  
Indian organic exports include cereals, pulses, honey, tea, spices, oil seeds, fruits, vegetables, cotton fibre, cosmetics and body care products.    
Government Support to Organic Farming
            The Ministry of Agriculture is promoting organic farming in the country under these schemes: National Project on Organic Farming, National Horticulture Mission, Technology Mission for North East and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.   The National Project on Organic Farming is being implemented since October 2004 through a National Centre of Organic Farming at Ghaziabad and six Regional Centres located at Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Hissar, Imphal, Jabalpur, and Nagpur.  The project supports organic input production infrastructure, technical capacity building of stake holders, human resource development through training, statutory quality control of organic inputs, technology development and dissemination, market development  and awareness.    Two new innovative components were added in the project  from the last financial year.  These were:
            1. Biological Soil Health Assessment: Traditionally, soil health is assessed through physio-chemical soil test and addressed mainly through chemical nutrient supplementation.   It is now proposed to assess the soils also form biological health angle for making appropriate interventions to restore the fertility through organic and biological means.
            2. PGS (Participatory Guarantee System) Certification:  For quality assurance of organically grown crops so far the available system is third party certification which is not only cumbersome but also very costly.  To address the issue, a new system is being introduced.  In this method, farmers in a group collectively pledge for adopting organic farming, maintain necessary records and have inspection by each other.  PGS will also serve as preparation to third party certification and farmers can easily switch over from PGS to the other form of certification.
            Under the National Horticulture Mission and Technology Mission for North East, assistance is provided @ 50 per cent of cost subject to a maximum of Rs. 10,000 per hectare (upto 4 hectares per beneficiary) for organic horticulture cultivation.  Assistance is also provided for setting up vermi-compost units @ 50 per cent of cost upto Rs.30,000 per beneficiary.  Assistance of Rs.5 lakh is provided to a group of farmers covering an area of 50 hectares for organic farming certification. 
Under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, States are being assisted for area expansion of organic food crops, capacity building of farmers and organic input production.
            Besides the efforts of Central Government, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Mizoram and Uttarakhand have already drafted policies for promotion of organic farming. Nagaland, Sikkim, Mizoram and Uttarakhand have decided to go 100 per cent organic in due course of time. 
 Network Project on Organic Farming
            The Indian Council of Agricultural  Research (ICAR) took an initiative during 10th Plan in the form of  Network Project on Organic Farming to study productivity, profitability, sustainability, quality and input use efficiency of different crops and cropping systems in different agro-ecological regions and to develop efficient crop and soil management options, and need-based cost effective new techniques for farm waste recycling.
            The project came into existence in 2004 with  main centre at project directorate for farming  systems research, Modipuram.  It comprises 13 cooperating centres spread over 12 States.  Based on results of past years, several significant achievements have been made and good yields/profits have been achieved in many crops at some of the centres under the organic farming system.  Since these results are only indicative and need a mid-term and long-term validation, their response to new environment would take some time to stabilise.  The ICAR has continued the project during 11th Plan also with 13 centres and the budgetary provision of  Rs.5.34  crore for five years.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Draft Lokpal Bill - Civil society version


In his foreword to the UN Convention Against Corruption, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan wrote, “Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on society. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and it allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.
This evil phenomenon is found in all countries, big and small, rich and poor – but it is in the developing world that its effects are more destructive. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining the government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign aid and investment. Corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and the major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development”.
The preamble of this Convention which has been signed by India and has been ratified by it, states that this Convention was adopted (on 31st October 2003) because the parties adopting it were “concerned about the seriousness of the problems and the threats posed by corruption to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardizing sustainable development and the rule of law”.
Some of the serious effects of corruption in India were set out in 1993 itself in the N.N. Vohra Committee report, which stated that, “The nexus between the criminal gangs, police, bureaucracy and politicians has come out clearly in various parts of the country. The existing criminal justice system, which was essentially designed to deal with the individual offences/crimes, is unable to deal with the activities of the Mafia; the provisions of law in regard economic offences are weak….The various crime Syndicates/Mafia organisations have developed significant muscle and money power and established linkages with governmental functionaries, political leaders and others to be able to operate with impunity”.
Corruption has indeed assumed alarming proportions and it is clear that the existing anti-corruption institutions have failed to tackle the menace and it has therefore become imperative to address the problems which plague the effectiveness of existing anti-corruption institutions and laws.
Article 6 (2) of UNCAC provides that “each state party shall grant the body (anti corruption institution) or bodies referred to in paragraph 1 of this article, the necessary independence, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system, to enable the body or bodies to carry out its or their functions effectively and free from any undue influence. The necessary material resources and specialized tasks, as well as the training that such staff may require to carry out their functions should be provided”.
This bill provides for the constitution of a Lokpal Authority which will be independent of the public officials and public authorities that it will be empowered to investigate and prosecute. Such independence is sought to be provided both by way of a broad based and transparent selection process as well as by functional autonomy. The bill, therefore, provides that the Lokpal shall have the authority to select its own staff and also ensure that such staff is adequate to handle complaints of corruption, misconduct as well as grievances. Corruption always involves misconduct and gives rise to grievances. These are inter-related. The existing vigilance machinery and the existing grievance redressal machinery also suffer from the problem of conflict of interests where vigilance officers and grievance redressal officers are unrealistically expected to exercise vigilance over their own bosses or those who exercise administrative control over them. The bill, therefore, provides that the vigilance machinery and the grievance redressal machinery also be brought under the supervisory control of an independent Lokpal.
Article 7 (4) of UNCAC provides that “each state party shall, in accordance with the fundamental principles of their local law, endeavour to adopt, maintain and strengthen systems that promote transparency and prevent conflicts of interests”. These are the principles on the basis of which powers of investigation and prosecution for corruption, enquiry and punishment for misconduct are required to be entrusted to an independent authority which would have no conflict of interests.
Article 8 (2) of UNCAC provides that “in particular, each state party shall endeavour to apply within its own institutional and legal systems, codes or standards of conduct for the correct, honourable and proper performance of public functions”. In accordance with these principles, the bill provides that each public authority shall prescribe a citizen’s charter for the performance of its public functions for which it would be held accountable to the independent Lokpal authority.
Article 8 (5) of the UNCAC provides that “each state party shall endaevour, where appropriate and in accordance with the fundamental principles of its domestic laws, to establish measures and systems requiring public officials to make declarations to appropriate authorities regarding, inter-alia, their outside activities, employment, investment, assets and substantial gifts or benefits from which a conflict of interest may result with respect to their functions as public officials”.
Article 8 (6) provides that “each state party shall consider taking, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its domestic law, disciplinary or other measures against public officials who violate the codes or standards established in accordance with this Article”.
Article 12 dealing with the private sector obliges each state party to take measures for “promoting transparency amongst private entities, including where appropriate, measures regarding the identity of legal and natural persons involved in the establishment and management of corporate entities; preventing the misuse of procedures regulating private entities including procedures regarding subsidies and licenses granted by public authorities for commercial activities; preventing conflicts of interests by imposing restrictions as appropriate and for a reasonable period of time, on the professional activities of former public officials or on the employment of public officials by the private sector after their resignation or retirement, where such activities or employment relate directly to the functions held or supervised by those public officials during their tenure”.
Article 13 of the UNCAC dealing with participation of society provides “each state party shall take appropriate measures within its means and in accordance with the fundamental principles of its domestic law to promote the active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society, non-government organizations and community based organizations in the prevention of and the fight against corruption and to raise public awareness regarding the existence, causes and gravity of and the threat posed by corruption. This participation shall be strengthened by such measures as: enhancing the transparency of and promoting the contribution of the public to decision making processes; ensuring that the public has effective access to information”.
Article 34 of UNCAC provides that “with due regard to the rights of third parties, acquired in good faith, each state party shall take measures, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its domestic laws, to address consequences of corruption. In this context, state parties may consider corruption a relevant factor in legal proceedings to annul or rescind a contract, withdraw a concession or other similar instrument or take any other remedial action”.
In accordance with all the above principles enunciated in the UNCAC, the powers of investigation and prosecution of public officials for corruption and disciplinary action for corruption against government officials are sought to be brought under an independent Lokpal authority. In addition, violation of the citizen’s charter which is akin to a code of conduct, would also be enquired into by the vigilance machinery under the Lokpal. Other ancillary powers such as freezing of assets acquired by public servants by corrupt means are also sought to be conferred on this authority. The integrity of the authority and the anti-corruption/vigilance machinery under its control is sought to be achieved by mandating transparency in its functioning and public participation, wherever possible. The accountability of the Lokpal itself would be to the Supreme Court, which would have the authority to enquire into and order the removal of members of the Lokpal. The officials under the Lokpal will be accountable to independent complaints authorities apart from the Lokpal itself. Judicial review over the actions of the Lokpal by the High Courts under Article 226 and the Supreme Court under Article 32 and 136 would further ensure the accountability of the Lokpal.
Lokpal Bills have been successively introduced in Parliament for the last 42 years but aborted each time for various reasons. An effective, independent and empowered Lokpal institution is a need for which the country cannot wait any longer. This Bill seeks to achieve this objective.
A Bill to establish an independent authority to investigate offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 to detect corruption by expeditious investigation and to prosecute offenders and to ensure timely redressal of certain types of public grievances and to provide protection to whistleblowers.
Be it be enacted by Parliament in the Sixty-first Year of the Republic of India as follows:-
1.(1)This Act may be called the Jan Lokpal Act, 2011.
(2)It shall come into force on 120th day of its securing assent from the President of India.
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires:-
(a)“Board” means the Chairman and the other members of the Lokpal Collectively.
(b)“Complaint” means an allegation of corruption or a request by whistleblower for protection and appropriate action.
(c ) “Lokpal” means and includes,
(i)Benches constituted under this Act and performing functions under this Act;
(ii)Any officer or employee performing under this Act,
(iii)The Board in rest of the cases;
(d)“Lokpal Bench” means a Bench of 2 or more members of the Lokpal acting together in respect of any matter in accordance with the regulations. Each bench shall have a member with legal background.
(e) “Act of corruption” includes -:
i) anything made punishable under Chapter IX of the Indian Penal Code or under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988; which would also include any offence committed by an elected member of a house of legislature even in respect of his speech or vote inside the house.
ii) willfully giving any undue benefit to any person or obtaining any benefit from any public servant in violation of any laws or rules,
iii) victimization of a whistleblower or a witness.
iv) repeated violation of citizen’s charter by any public servant.
(f) “Full bench” means a bench with seven members with or without the Chairperson
(g)“Government Servant” means a public servant, who is not an elected representative or a judicial officer.
(h)“Grievance” means a claim by a person that he could not get satisfactory redressal according to a citizens’ charter despite approaching a Grievance Redressal Officer of that Department;
(i)“Judicial officer” means the officers appointed under section 22 of this Act.
(j) “Penalty” under this Act means punishment of dismissal, removal or reduction in rank
(k)“Public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self-governance established or constituted –
i) by or under the Constitution; or
ii) by or under any other law made by the Parliament, or a state legislature
iii) by notification issued or order made by the Government, and includes any body owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government;
(l)“Public servant” shall have the same meaning as defined in section 2(c) of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988.
(m)“Whistleblower” means any person, who provides information about corruption in a public authority or is a witness or victim in that case or who faces the threat of
(i) professional harm, including but not limited to illegitimate transfer, denial of promotion, denial of appropriate perquisites, departmental proceedings, discrimination or
(ii)physical harm, or
(iii)is actually subjected to any harm;
because of either making a complaint to the Lokpal under this Act, or for filing an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 or by any other legal; action aimed at preventing or exposing corruption or mal-governance.
3. Notwithstanding anything in any other Act or Law the provisions of this Act shall prevail and to the extent that the provisions of this Act are repugnant to any other provision in any other Act or law, the provisions in other Acts or laws shall stand amended to the extent of such repugnancy.
4. (1)Immediately after the commencement of this Act, the Central Government by a Notification shall establish an institution known as Lokpal, who would have administrative, financial and functional independence from the government.
(2)The Lokpal shall consist of a Chairperson and 10 other members and various officers under them at different levels to perform such functions as are assigned to them under this Act.
(3)The Chairperson and the 10 members of the Lokpal shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a Selection Committee.
(4) The following shall not be eligible to become Chairperson or Member of Lokpal:
Any person, who is not a citizen of India, or
Any person, against whom charges were ever framed by any court of law for any offence involving moral turpitude, or
Any person, who is less than 45 years in age, or
Any person, who was in the service of any government and has remitted office within the last two years, either by way of resignation or retirement.
(5) At least four members of Lokpal shall have a legal background.
Explanation: “Legal Background” means that the person should have held a judicial office in the territory of India for at least ten years or should have been an advocate in a High Court or the Supreme Court for at least fifteen years.
(6)The Selection Committee shall consist of the following:-
(i)The Prime Minister of India, who will be the Chairperson of the Selection Committee.
(ii) The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
(iii) Two judges of Supreme Court of India and two permanent Chief Justices of the High Courts selected by collegium of all Supreme Court judges
(v) The Chief Election Commissioner of India
(vi)The Comptroller & Auditor General of India
(vii) All previous Chairpersons of Lokpal.
(7)The Selection Committee shall select the Chairperson and the other members of the Lokpal from out of a short list prepared by the Search Committee. The Chairperson shall be a person with extensive knowledge of law.
(8)A Search Committee shall consist of 10 members. 5 of its members shall be selected by the Selection Committee from amongst the retired Chief Justices of India, the retired Chief Election Commissioners and the retired Comptroller and Auditor Generals with impeccable reputation of integrity, who have not joined any political party after retirement and who are not holding any office under any government. The 5 members so selected shall, through consensus, co-opt another 5 members from the Civil Society in the search committee.
(9)The Search Committee before preparing the short list will invite nominations from such eminent individuals or such class of people, whom they deem fit, for the position of Chairperson or the members of the Lokpal.
(10)Only persons with impeccable integrity and record of public service particularly in the field of fighting corruption shall be eligible for being considered for nomination.
(11) The recommendations about nominees should, interalia, contain details of any allegations faced by that candidate under any law, details of his work against corruption in the past, reasons why that person is suitable for the job and any other material that the search committee may decide.
(12) The search committee, using any other means, shall collect as much information about the background and past achievements of these candidates.
(13)Such nominations as are received shall be put on a web site for inviting comments from the people with regard to the suitability or otherwise of the nominees.
(14)The Search Committee after taking into consideration the comments/information received from the public shall prepare, preferably through consensus, the short list of 3 times the number of persons to be appointed as members of the Lokpal.
(15)Any nominations to which objections are raised by any 3 members of the Search Committee shall not be included in the short list.
(16)Before sending the short list to the Selection Committee, the Search Committee will get the names of the short listed persons put on a public web site to enable people to send any relevant information/comments about the shortlisted persons.
(17)The Selection Committee shall, after considering all relevant information about the short listed candidates, select the required number of persons preferably through consensus. However, a person shall not be selected if 3 members of the Selection Committee disapprove such names.
(18)The Selection Committee after selecting the persons to be appointed as members or Chairperson of the Lokpal shall ascertain their willingness to serve as members or Chairperson, as the case may be, before recommending the names to the President.
(19) The Government shall fill up a vacancy of the Chairperson or a member 3 months before the member or the Chairperson is due to retire. If the vacancy arises due to unforeseen reasons, it shall be filled within three months of such vacancy arising.
(20) The Officers in the Lokpal shall be appointed by the Board or any other authority designated by the Regulations whether on a permanent basis or on a temporary basis.
(21) The Chairperson or members of Lokpal shall not be serving member of either the Parliament or the Legislature of any State and shall not hold any office of profit (other than the office as Chairperson or member) or carry on any business or practice any profession and accordingly, before he enters upon his office, a person appointed as the Chairperson or member of Lokpal shall-
(i)if he holds any office or profit, resign from such office; or
(ii)if he is carrying on any business, sever his connection with the conduct and management of such business; or
(iii)if he is practicing any profession, suspend practice of such profession, or
(iv)if he is associated directly or indirectly with any other activity, which is likely to cause conflict of interest in the performance of his duties in Lokpal, he should suspend his association with that activity.
Provided that if even after the suspension, the earlier association of that person with such activity is likely to adversely affect his performance at Lokpal, that person shall not be appointed as a member or Chairperson of Lokpal.
(22)A person appointed as the Chairperson or member of Lokpal shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office or upto the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier;
Provided that ,-
(a)the Chairperson or member of Lokpal may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign from his office;
(b)the Chairperson or member may be removed from office in the manner provided in this Act.
(23)There shall be paid to the Chairperson and each member a salary equal to that of the Chief Justice of India and that of the judge of the Supreme Court respectively;
(24)The allowances and pension payable to and other conditions of service of the Chairperson or a member shall be such as may be prescribed by the government;
Provided that the allowances and pension payable to and other conditions of service of the Chairperson or a member shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
(25)The Chairperson and members of Lokpal shall not be eligible for appointment to any position in the Government of India or the government of any State or any such body which is funded by any of the Governments or for contesting elections to Parliament, State Legislature or local bodies.
5.The Lokpal shall select and appoint a Secretary to the Lokpal who will have the rank of Secretary to the Government of India. He shall be competent to authenticate all orders passed by the Lokpal.
Functions of Lokpal:
6.The Lokpal shall have the following functions and powers
a) to exercise superintendence over the investigation of offences involving any act of corruption.
b) to give directions to the investigating officers for the purpose of proper investigation of such offences.
c)after completion of investigation in any case involving an allegation of an act of corruption, to impose punishment of dismissal, removal or reduction in rank against government servants after giving them reasonable opportunities of being heard.
d) to ensure that the public grievances covered by this Act are redressed in a time bound manner
e) to initiate prosecution before a Special Court established under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988
f) to ensure the proper prosecution of cases before a Special Court established under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
g) to provide by rules for the terms and conditions of service including the allowances and pension payable to the officers and staff of the Lokpal.
h) to authorize a Bench of the Lokpal to issue letters-rogatory in relation to any case pending investigation under this Act.
i) to receive complaints from whistle blowers.
j) to receive complaints against any officer or staff of Lokpal.
k) to recruit investigating officers and other officers and staff and get them trained in modern methods of scientific investigation.
(l)to appoint judicial officers, prosecutors and senior counsels.
(m) to acquire modern equipment necessary for proper investigation.
n) to attach property and assets acquired by corrupt means and to confiscate them in certain cases as provided under this Act.
(o) to recommend cancellation or modification of a lease, license, permission, contract or agreement, if it was obtained by corrupt means and to recommend blacklisting of a firm, company, contractor or any other person, involved in an act of corruption. The public authority shall either comply with the recommendation or reject the same within a month of receipt of recommendation. In the event of rejection of its recommendation, the Lokpal may approach appropriate High Court for seeking appropriate directions to be given to the public authority.
p)to ensure due compliance of its orders by imposing penalties on persons failing to comply with its orders as provided under this Act.
q) to initiate suo moto appropriate action under the Act on receipt of any information from any source about any corruption.
r) to make recommendations to public authorities, in consultation with them, to make changes in their work practices to reduce the scope for corruption and whistleblower victimization. The concerned authority shall send its compliance report to Lokpal within two months specifying detailed reasons, wherever they choose to reject any of the recommendations.
s) to prepare a sentencing policy for the offences under Prevention of Corruption Act and revising it from time to time.
t) to ensure that the time limits mentioned in this Act are strictly adhered to.
u) to ensure the integrity of its functionaries and impose punishments of dismissal, removal and reduction in rank against.
v) to require any public authority to render any specific help required by the Lokpal.
w) to prepare an appropriate reward scheme to encourage complaints from within and outside the government to report acts and evidence of corruption.
Provided that the total value of such reward shall not exceed 10% of the value of the loss recovered or loss prevented.
(x) to inquire into the assets declaration statements filed by all successful candidates after any election to any seat in any House of the Parliament.
(x) Such other functions as may be necessary for the proper implementation of this Act.
Powers of officers under Lokpal
7. (1)The Investigating Officers of Lokpal authorized to investigate offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 shall have all the powers which are vested in a Police Officer while investigating offences under the Code of Criminal Procedure, as well as the powers conferred on the director of enforcement under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 as well as under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
(2)The members of Lokpal or any officer under the Lokpal while exercising any powers under the Act shall have the powers of a civil court trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and in particular, in respect of the following matters :
(a)summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath;
(b)requiring the discovery and production of any document;
(c)receiving evidence on affidavits;
(d)requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
(e)issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or other documents; and
(f)any other matter which may be prescribed
(3)All members of the Lokpal and all officers of the Lokpal superior in rank to an Investigating Officer may exercise the same powers as may be exercised by such Investigating Officer.
(4) A Lokpal bench may punish a public servant with imprisonment up to 6 months or with fine or both, if he fails to comply with its order for ensuring their compliance
(5) If during the course of investigation into a complaint, the Lokpal feels that continuance of a government servant in that position could adversely affect the course of investigations or that the said government servant is likely to destroy or tamper with the evidence or influence the witnesses or is likely to continue with corruption, the Lokpal may issue appropriate directions including transfer of that government servant from that position.
(6) The Lokpal may, at any stage of investigation under this Act, direct by an interim order, appropriate authorities to take such action as is necessary, to prevent the public servant from secreting the assets allegedly acquired by him by corrupt means;
(7) While investigating any offence under Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, Lokpal shall be competent to investigate any offence under any other law in the same case.
(8) If during any investigation under this act, the Lokpal is satisfied that any preventive action is necessary in public interest to prevent the ongoing incidence of corruption, it may make any recommendation to the public authority concerned to stay the implementation or enforcement of any decision or take any such action as is recommended by the Lokpal. The public authority shall either comply with the recommendation of the Lokpal or reject the same within 15 days of the recommendation thereof. In the event of rejection of its recommendation, the Lokpal may approach the appropriate High Court for seeking appropriate directions to be given to the public authority.
8. For the purposes of investigation of offences related to acts of corruption, the appropriate Bench of the Lokpal shall be deemed to be designated authority under Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act empowered to approve interception and monitoring of messages of data or voice transmitted through telephones, internet or any other medium as covered under the Indian Telegraph Act read with Information and Technology Act 2000 and as per rules and regulations made under the Indian Telegraph Act 1885.
Issue of search warrants:
9. (1) Where, in consequence of information in his possession, the Lokpal
(a)has reason to believe that any person –
(i) to whom a summon or notice under this Act, has, been or might be issued, will not or would not produce or cause to be produced any property, document or thing which will be necessary or useful for or relevant to any inquiry or other proceedings to be conducted by him;
It may by a search warrant authorize any officer not below the rank of an Inspector of Police to conduct a search or carry out an inspection in accordance therewith and in particular to, enter and search any building or place where he has reason to suspect that such property, or document, is kept;
(2)The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, relating to search and seizure shall apply, so far as may be, to searches and seizures under sub-section (1).
(3)A warrant issued under sub-section (1) shall for all purposes, be deemed to be a warrant issued by a court under section 93 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
10. (1)The Lokpal may regulate the procedure for the transaction of its business or that of its officers as also allocation of its business amongst the different benches of Lokpal.
(2).No act or proceeding of the Lokpal shall be invalid merely by reason of :
(a)any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of Lokpal ;
(b)any defect in the appointment of a person acting as a member of Lokapl ; or
(c)any irregularity not affecting the merits of the case
(3) All policy level decisions including formulation of regulations, assignment and delegation of functions and powers shall be taken by the Board in accordance with regulations.
(4) A complaint by any person may be made in the form of a First Information Report as provided under the Code of Criminal Procedure which will not require any payment of fee or affidavit and could be sent to any office of the Lokpal and shall not be rejected merely on the basis of motive or intention of the complainant.
(5) The investigation in any case shall not be closed by the investigating officer without recording reasons for such closure.
(6) The hearings in any proceedings before the Lokpal shall be held in public except in exceptional circumstance where it is not in public interest to do so and the reasons for the same shall be recorded in writing before those proceedings are held in camera. The hearings held in public shall be video recorded and shall be made available to the public on payment of copying cost.
Removal of Chairperson or members of Lokpal:
11. (1).The Chairperson or any other member of the Lokpal shall only be removed from his office by the President, on the recommendation of the Supreme Court on any of the following grounds after the Supreme Court, on the complaint of any person, held an inquiry and found that he could on such ground be removed :
(a)that he has been guilty of misbehavior; or
(b) that he is unfit to continue in his office by reason of infirmity of mind or body; or
(c) is adjudged an insolvent; or
(d) engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office.
(2) In any such proceeding the Supreme Court may also direct the suspension of such Chairman or member.
(3) On receipt of recommendation from the Supreme Court, the President shall forthwith remove the Chairperson or the member, as the case may be.
(4) Supreme Court shall, as far as possible, make its recommendations within 3 months of receipt of complaint under this section.
(5) If the complaint is frivolous or has been made with malafide intentions, Supreme Court may impose a fine or an imprisonment upto one year or both on the complainant.
Appeals against the orders of Lokpal:
12. Any orders passed by any bench of the Lokpal or any officer of the Lokpal shall be subject to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Ordinarily, High Courts shall not stay the order. However, if it does, it will have to decide the case within two months, else the stay would be deemed to have been vacated after two months and no further stay in that case could be granted.
Audit of Lokpal:
13. (1) The CAG shall conduct an annual financial and performance audit of the Lokpal.
(2) A Parliamentary Committee shall do an annual appraisal of the functioning of Lokpal. The Lokpal shall submit a compliance report, mentioning detailed reasons where it does not accept the recommendations of this committee, to the Parliament. It shall be placed on the table of the two Houses of Parliament.
Reports of Lokpal:
14. (1) The Chairperson of Lokpal shall present annually a consolidated report in the prescribed format on its performance to the President
(2)On receipt of the annual report, the President shall cause a copy thereof together with an explanatory memorandum to be laid before each House of the Parliament.
(3)The Lokpal shall publish every month on its website the list of cases received during the previous month, list of cases disposed with brief details of each such case, outcome and action taken or proposed to be taken in that case, list of cases which are pending and minutes and records of Board meetings.
Independent Complaints Authority:
15. (1)In each State, one or more complaints authority would be established by the Lokpal to entertain any complaints against any officer or staff of the Lokpal.
(2)Such complaints authority shall consist of 5 members to be selected and nominated by a Committee of 3 persons consisting of:
i)The Chief Justice of the High Court of the State;
ii)The Chairman of the State Lok Ayukata
iii)The Chairman of the State Human Rights Commission
(3) The Complaints Authority shall be chaired by a retired High Court judge and shall have two retired civil servants and two members of civil society.
(4)The complaints received against any officer or staff of the Lokpal shall be inquired into by the Complaints Authority in a public hearing and shall be decided within 2 months of the receipt of the complaint. The officer or staff of the Lokpal shall be given proper opportunity to tender his defence. If the officer or member is found guilty of misbehavior or dishonest investigation or corruption, the authority may order his dismissal, removal or reduction in rank.
(5)The final orders passed by the Complaints Authority will be subject to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.
(6)In suitable cases it would also be open to the complaints authority to direct suspension of the officer or staff of the Lokpal.
(7) Lokpal shall provide for the expenses related to the functioning of complaints authority.
(8) Complaints authority shall work in benches in accordance with regulations made under this Act.
Transparency within Lokpal:
16. The Lokpal shall maintain complete transparency in its functioning and shall ensure that full records of any investigation or inquiry conducted under this Act after its conclusion is made public by being put on a public web site.
17. (1)No investigation or prosecution shall be initiated without obtaining permission from a 7-Member Bench of the Lokpal against any of the following persons:-
i)The Prime Minister and any other member of the Council of Ministers
ii)Any judge of the Supreme Court or any High Court
iii)Any Member of the Parliament
18. (1)The Lokpal may by notification make regulations consistent with this Act to carry out the provisions of this Act.
(2)In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the power contained in sub-section (1) any such regulations may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely:-
a)the creation of different wings in the Lokpal to deal with different subjects like investigation, prosecution and grievances;
b)the conferment of authority on officers at different levels to exercise powers under the Act and to lay down the procedure for any inquiries including those relating to complaints against its officers or members of staff ;
c)periods within which the investigations and inquiries have to be completed
d) To provide for the taking of certain decisions by appropriate benches of the Lokpal by circulation only.
(e) Work norms for each category of officers and staff of Lokpal.
(3)The regulations framed by the Lokpal under this Section shall be laid, as soon as may be after they are issued or made, before each House of Parliament.
19. (1) If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government may, on the recommendation of the Lokpal, by order, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, remove the difficulty provided that no such order shall be made after the expiry of a period of 2 years from the date of commencement of this Act.
(2) Every order made under this section shall be laid before each house of Parliament.
20. (1)Every investigating officer shall endeavour to complete the investigation of an offence within a period of 6 months but when necessary he may obtain extension of time from a Bench of the Lokpal. In any case the period of investigation shall not extend 18 months.
(2).Every effort will be made by the special courts trying an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act to complete the trial within a maximum period of 12 months.
(3).To achieve the objective of a speedy trial the Lokpal shall make an annual assessment of the number of special courts required for this purpose and shall make a recommendation to the Government for creating a specific number of special courts which recommendations shall be binding on the Government.
(4) The Chief Justices of High Courts will constitute such number of special benches in respective High Courts to hear cases under this Act, to ensure that an appeal in any case is decided as expeditiously as possible and not later than six months.
(5) The judges of Special Courts and the appellate benches set up by High Courts to hear cases under this Act will deal only with cases under this Act.
21. (1)Any public official or any other person having information of any corruption in any public authority would be encouraged to send the information confidentially to the Lokpal; and it shall be the duty of the Lokpal to get an inquiry made into such information and if necessary get an investigation made under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
(2).It shall be the duty of the Lokpal to provide full protection to whistle blowers from any physical harm or administrative harassment. Identity of such whistle blowers shall also be protected if the whistle blower so desires.
(3).For achieving this objective it shall be competent for the Lokpal to give suitable direction to any security agencies for providing security as well as to any other authority to ensure that no harassment is caused to such whistle blower.
(4). Orders under this section shall be passed expeditiously and in any case within a month of receipt of complaint. Immediate action will be taken in cases involving a threat of physical victimization.
(5) The investigations in complaints by whistleblowers facing physical or professional victimization shall be fast tracked and completed within three months of receipt of the same.
22. (1)After the completion of an investigation against any government servant the Lokpal may either initiate prosecution against such public servant or may initiate proceedings for imposition of penalty or both.
(2) Lokpal shall appoint such officers, who may be retired judges or retired civil servants or such others as may be provided, to act as judicial officers for the purpose of this section, at such terms and conditions as may be provided in regulations.
(3)A bench of judicial officers will conduct an inquiry against such government servant for imposition of penalty in which full opportunity to show cause would be given to such government servant. After conclusion of the inquiry the bench shall also determine the penalty, if any, to be awarded to that public servant. The decision of the bench will be subject to approval by a higher authority prescribed by the Lokpal by through regulations.
(4)The recommendations so approved shall be binding on the appointing authority.
23. (1)For any act of corruption, the punishment shall not be less than six months of rigorous imprisonment and may extend up to imprisonment for life.
(2)The Special Court may take into consideration the higher rank of an accused person to inflict a more severe punishment.
(3) If the beneficiary of an offense is a business entity, in addition to the other punishments provided for under this Act and under the Prevention of Corruption Act, a fine of up to five times the loss caused to the public shall be recovered from the accused and the recovery may be made from the assets of the business entity and from the personal assets of its Managing Directors, if the assets of the accused person are inadequate.
(4) If any company or any of its officer or Director is convicted for any offence under Prevention of Corruption Act, that company and all companies promoted by any of that company’s promoters shall be blacklisted and be ineligible for undertaking any government work or contract in future.
(5) If a public servant is convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, such public servant shall stand removed from his office.
24. Wherever Lokpal directs imposition of financial penalty on any officer under this Act to be deducted from his salary, it shall be the duty of the Drawing and Disbursing Officer of that Department to implement such order, failing which the said Drawing and Disbursing Officer shall make himself liable for similar penalty.
25. (1) Each public authority shall prepare a specific charter within a reasonable time not exceeding one year from the coming into force of this Act.
(2)Every citizens’ charter shall enumerate the public authority’s commitments to the citizens which are capable of being met within a specific time limit and shall designate the officer whose duty would be to fulfill the commitment of the public authority.
(3) If any public authority does not prepare its citizen’s charter within a year, Lokpal shall notify the citizen’s charter on its own after consulting the public authority and the same shall be binding on that authority.
(4) Each public authority shall make an assessment of the resources required to implement the citizen’s charter and the government shall provide such resources.
(5)Each public authority shall designate an official called Public Grievance Redressal Officer in each station where the public authority has an office, to whom a complaint could be made for any violation of the citizens’ charter.
(6)The Senior most officer of that public authority in that office will be designated as the Public Grievance Redressal Officer.
(7)It shall be the duty of the Grievance Redressal Officer to get the grievance redressed within a period of 30 days from the receipt of the complaint.
(8)In the event of even the Grievance Redressal Officer not getting the grievance redressed within the specific period of 30 days a complaint could be made to the Lokpal.
(9)The Lokpal after hearing the Grievance Redressal Officer would impose suitable penalty not exceeding Rs. 500/- for each day’s delay but not exceeding Rs. 50,000/- to be recovered from the salaries of the Grievance Redressal Officer.
(10)Apart from levying the penalty on the Grievance Redressal Officer, the Lokpal may also in suitable cases recommend to the appropriate authority to have departmental punishment imposed on the Grievance Redressal Officer.
(11)The Lokpal will also issue a direction to an appropriate authority to get such grievances redressed within the time to be fixed by the Lokpal.
(12) Every public authority shall review and revise its Citizens Charter at least once every year through a process of public consultation to be held in the presence of a representative of Lokpal.
(13) Lokpal may direct any public authority to make such changes in their citizens’ charter as are mentioned in that order and that public authority shall make such changes within a month of the receipt of such order.
Provided that such changes shall have to be approved by at least a three member bench of Lokpal.
(14) There shall be at least one officer of the Lokpal in each district to receive grievances who shall be called an Appellate Grievance Officer. However, in such places where there is more concentration of central government offices, there shall be more Appellate Grievance Officers as may be required.
(15) A social audit of each Appellate Grievance Officer shall take place every six months, in which he shall present himself before the public, present the data related to his functioning, respond to public queries and incorporate suggestions from public in his functioning. The public hearing shall be attended by a senior officer from Lokpal.
(16) No case can be closed by Appellate Grievance Officer till the citizen’s grievance is redressed or the case is rejected by the Appellate Grievance Officer.
26. (1)All expenses of the Lokpal shall be charged to the Consolidated fund of India.
(2)The Board shall finalise the Lokpal’s budget in such a manner that it is less than ¼ % of the total revenues of the Government of India.
(3) Lokpal shall not need any administrative or financial sanction from any government agency to incur expenditure.
27. (1)After a public servant has been found guilty by the Special Court of having committed an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Court would also determine the assets and properties which have been acquired by such accused person by his corrupt acts.
(2)The Special Court will pass an order for the confiscation of all the assets and properties which it has found to have been acquired by the corrupt acts of the convicted public servants as well as the subsequent accruals on these assets.
(3)The Special Court would also determine whether apart from the above the accused person by his corrupt acts has also caused any loss to the exchequer or any other person and determine the amount of loss so caused. The Court shall make an order levying a fine on the accused persons so convicted for the recovery of the entire loss which his corrupt acts have caused and shall also apportion this amount among the various convicted accused persons to be recovered from them as fines.
(4)During the course of investigation if the Investigating Officer finds any property or asset which appears to have been acquired by the corrupt acts of an accused person who is being investigated, it shall make an order of attachment of those assets so that they are available for confiscation at the time of the conviction of such accused persons. In case the accused person is ultimately acquitted, these attached assets and properties will be restored to him.
28. (1)Every public servant shall within 3 months after the commencement of this Act and thereafter before the 30th June of every year submit to the Head of that public authority in which the said public servant is functioning or to such other authority as may be prescribed, a statement of his assets and liabilities and those of the members of his family which shall include their sources of income, in the format prescribed by the Lokpal.
Explanation : In this Section family of a public servant means the spouse and such children and parents of the public servant and such other people as are dependent on him.
(2)The Head of each public authority shall ensure that all such statements are put on the website by 31st of August of that year.
(3) If it is found that the public servant owns some property which was not disclosed in his statement of assets, that property would be liable to be confiscated by the Lokpal.
(4). If the public servant is found to be in possession or enjoyment of any property which is not shown in his statement of assets, it shall be presumed that it was owned by him unless he proves to the contrary.
29. (1)Section 19(1) and 19(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act shall be deleted.
(2)Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act shall not be applicable to the proceedings under this Act.
(3)Section 197 of Cr. PC shall not applicable to any proceedings under this Act.
(4) The provisions of sections 105C to 105I of CrPC shall apply to offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act whether or not they are transnational in nature.
(5) Section 389(3) of CrPC shall not apply to offences under Prevention of Corruption Act.
(6) The right to file appeals under section 377 or 378 of CrPC shall be exercised by Lokpal.
(7) Under section 372 of CrPC, the power to file an appeal shall be with the complainant as well.
(8) Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 397 of CrPC, no court shall ordinarily call for records in cases related to trial of offences in Prevention of Corruption Act during any trial by a special court.
Provided that if the court calls for records, the same shall be returned within a month.
(9)Any permission which is required under any law for initiating investigation or initiating prosecution under any Act shall be deemed to have been granted once the Lokpal has granted permission to initiate investigation or prosecution for any offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
(10) The power of the Lokpal to investigate offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act shall be with the Lokpal notwithstanding any provision in the Money Laundering Act, 2002.
(11) The jurisdiction of the special courts under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 to try offences under such act shall be with the Special Court notwithstanding any provision in the Money Laundering Act, 2002.
(12) The appropriate Bench of the Lokpal shall be deemed to be the designated authority under Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act empowered to approve interseption and monitoring of messages or data or voice transmitted through telephones, internet or any other medium as covered under the Indian Telegraph Act read with Information and Technology Act 2000 and as per rules and regulations made under the Indian Telegraph Act 1885.
(13) Section 4 (4) of Prevention of Corruption Act shall be amended as – “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 a Special Judge shall hold the trial of an offence on day-to-day basis, and shall not grant adjournment for any purpose unless such adjournment is, in its opinion, necessary in the interests of justice and for reasons to be recorded in writing”
Punishments for false complaints:
30. (1)Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, if someone makes any complaint under this Act, which lacks any basis or evidence and is held by Lokpal to be meant only to harass certain authorities, Lokpal may impose such fines on that complainant as it deems fit, but the total fine in any one case shall not exceed Rs one lakh.
Provided that no fine can be imposed without giving a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the complaintant.
Provided further that merely because a case could not be proved under this Act after investigation shall not be held against a complainant for the purposes of this section.
Provided that if such complaint is against the staff or officers of Lokpal, Lokpal may sentence the complainant to three months of simple imprisonment in addition to fine.
(2)Such fines shall be recoverable as dues under Land Revenue Act.
(3)A complaint or allegation once made under this Act shall not be allowed to be withdrawn.
Provisions to prevent corruption:
31. (1) No government official shall be eligible to take up jobs, assignments, consultancies, etc. with any person, company, or organisation that he had dealt with in his official capacity.
(2) All contracts, public-private partnerships, transfer by way of sale, lease, and any form of largesse by any public authority shall be done with complete transparency and by calling for public tender/auction/bids unless it is an emergency measure or where it is not possible to do so for reasons to be recorded in writing. Any violation of this shall make the contract/largesse void. The details of all such transactions would be put up by the public authority on a public website.
(3) All contracts, agreements or MOUs known by any name related to transfer of natural resources, including land and mines to any private entity by any method like public-private partnerships, sale, lease or any form of largesse by any public authority shall be put on the website within a week of being signed.
Merger of anti-corruption branch of CBI into Lokpal:
32. (1) The part of the Delhi Special Police Establishment, dealing with investigation and prosecution of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, shall stand transferred, alongwith its employees, assets and liabilities to the Lokpal. The Central Government shall cease to have any control over the transferred part and its personnel.
(2) Such part of Delhi Special Police Establishment, which has been transferred above, shall form part of the Investigation Wing of Lokpal.
(3) The salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of services of the personnel transferred above shall be the same as they were immediately before the commencement of this Act.
(4) All cases which were being dealt by that part of Delhi Special Police Establishment, which has been transferred, shall stand transferred to Lokpal.
Immunity to bribe giver in certain cases:
33. Any bribe giver may be granted immunity from prosecution by the special court if he voluntarily and gives timely information to the Lokpal about the giving of bribe by him with entire evidence for the purpose of getting the concerned bribe taker/public servant caught and convicted, provided he also relinquishes all the illegitimate benefits which he had received by the giving of that bribe. If the information provided by such bribe giver is subsequently found to be false, the immunity could be withdrawn by the special court.
(This draft provides only for the Lokpal for central public servants. Similar provisions for Lokayuktas in the States to deal with public servants of the State will have to be incorporated in the bill)