LOKPAL AND LOKAYUKTAS BILL PASSED BY PARLIAMENT
AWARENESS ABOUT GOOD GOVERNANCE INITIATIVES
SIMPLIFICATION OF PROCEDURE FOR PAYMENT OF FAMILY PENSION
During the year 2013, passing of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 release of documentary films on good governance initiatives, guidelines for suo motu disclosure, launching of internship scheme and simplification of procedure for payment of family pension were some of the important highlights of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pension.
Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill
The historic Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 passed by Parliament (December 17, 2013 in Rajya Sabha and December 18, 2013 in Lok Sabha) paves the way for setting up of the institution of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in States by law enacted by the respective State Legislatures within one year of coming into force of the Act. The new law provides for a mechanism for dealing with complaints of corruption against public functionaries, including those in high places.
Salient Features of the Bill
The Bill as passed by Parliament provided broadly for the following:
(a) Establishment of the institution of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas at the level of the States, thus providing a uniform vigilance and anti-corruption road-map for the nation, both at the Centre and the States.
(b) The Lokpal to consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight Members, of which fifty percent shall be judicial Members. Fifty per cent of members of Lokpal shall be from amongst SC, ST, OBCs, Minorities and Women.
(c) The selection of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal shall be through a Selection Committee consisting of –
· Prime Minister;
· Speaker of Lok Sabha;
· Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha;
· Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court Judge nominated by CJI;
· An eminent jurist to be nominated by the President of India
(d) A Search Committee will assist the Selection Committee in the process of selection. Fifty per cent of members of the Search Committee shall also be from amongst SC, ST, OBCs, Minorities and Women.
(e) Prime Minister was brought under the purview of the Lokpal with subject matter exclusions and specific process for handling complaints against the Prime Minister.
(f) Lokpal’s jurisdiction will cover all categories of public servants including Group ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ & ‘D’ officers and employees of Government. On complaints referred to CVC by Lokpal, CVC will send its report of Preliminary enquiry in respect of Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ officers back to Lokpal for further decision. With respect to Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ employees, CVC will proceed further in exercise of its own powers under the CVC Act subject to reporting and review by Lokpal.
(g) All entities receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of Rs. 10 lakhs per year are brought under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
(h) Lokpal will have power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal.
(i) A high powered Committee chaired by the Prime Minister will recommend selection of the Director, CBI.
(j) Attachment and confiscation of property of public servants acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.
(k) Clear time lines for:-
Ø Preliminary enquiry – three months extendable by three months.
Ø Investigation – six months which may be extended by six months at a time.
Ø Trial – one year extendable by one year and, to achieve this, special courts to be set up.
(l) Enhancement of maximum punishment under the Prevention of Corruption Act from seven years to 10 years. The minimum punishment under sections 7, 8, 9 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act will now be three years and the minimum punishment under section 15 (punishment for attempt) will now be two years.
Guidelines for Suo Motu Disclosure by Central Government Ministries/Departments:
Government issued guidelines for suo motu disclosure by Central Government Ministries/Departments and Public Authorities there under. These guidelines are based on the recommendation of the Task Force set up by the Government for strengthening compliance with provisions for suo motu (proactive) disclosure as given in Section 4 of the RTI Act, 2005.
The following points:-
a) Suo motu disclosure of more items under Section 4 – This includes detailed guidelines on proactive disclosure of information related to procurement, public private partnerships, transfer policy and transfer orders, RTI applications received and their responses, CAG and PAC paras, citizens charter and Discretionary and Non – discretionary grants.
b) Guidelines for digital publication of proactive disclosure to ensure that the Government websites’ disclosure is complete, easily accessible, technology and platform neutral and user friendly.
c) Detailing of few sub-clauses of Section 4 (1)(b) of the RTI Act regarding publishing of information by the public authority viz “the procedure followed in the decision making process”, “norms set by the public authority for the discharge of its functions”, “the budget allocated to each of its agency” and “ details in respect of information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form”.
Release of Documentary films on Good Governance Initiatives:
Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions and PMO Shri V. Narayanasamy and Minister of Information & Broadcasting Shri Manish Tewari released seven documentary films on good governance initiatives. Six films have been produced by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances and one by the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare with an objective to promote good governance initiatives in the country.
The Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances has been documenting and disseminating best practices of the Central and State Governments through various modes of communication such as documentary films, books, workshops and Conferences with an objective to promote the successful initiatives and facilitate their replication elsewhere in the country.
The documentary films are meant for diverse audiences such as probationers & other officers in national academies and State training institutes; delegates in conferences, seminars and meetings at Central, State, District, Panchayat levels; and for telecast on national network of Doordarshan or other television channels for general public.
Simplification of Procedure for Payment of Family Pension:
The Government has decided that an employee/pensioner/family pensioner may at anytime make a request to the Appointing Authority for advance approval to the grant of family pension for life to a permanently disabled child/sibling or dependent parents. On the basis of this approval, authorisation shall be made in the original Pension Payment Order (PPO) at the time of retirement or by issuing a revised authority. The permanently disabled child/sibling/ dependent parents will receive family pension at the appropriate time, i.e., after the death of employee/pensioner and/or after the death/ineligibility of any other member in the family who was eligible to receive family pension prior to the disabled child/sibling/dependent parents.
Where there are other eligible prior claimants to family pension, the names of disabled child/children/dependent parents/permanently disabled sibling will be added to the PPO issued to the preceding eligible family pensioner. Family pension to these permanently disabled child/children/siblings/dependent parents will be payable after the death/ineligibility of the prior claimant, as the case maybe.
Grant of Family Pension to the family of missing employee/pensioner
Family pension is payable to the family of a Government employee or pensioner after his death. Difficulties in payment arise when a Government Servant or pensioner goes missing. Clarificatory instructions were issued by the Central Government for payment of benefits in such cases. According to these instructions, the family must lodge a report with the concerned police station and obtain a report from the police, that the employee or pensioner or family pensioner has not been traced despite all efforts made by them. The report may be a First Information Report or any other report such as a Daily Diary or General Diary Entry.
The family can apply for the grant of family pension, amount of salary due, leave encashment due and the amount of GPF and gratuity (whatever has not already been received) to the Head of Office of the organisation where the employee or pensioner had last served, six months after lodging of police report. The amount of salary due, leave encashment due and the amount of GPF will be paid to the family in the first instance as per the nominations made by the employee or pensioner on filling of a police report and submission of an indemnity bond.
DoPT Launched Internship Scheme, 2013 from September 01
The Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India initiated an Internship Scheme from September 01, 2013 to engage Indian Nationals, who are Graduate /Post Graduate or Research Students enrolled in reputed University/Institution within India or abroad and preferably specializing in HR and associated subjects in Public Policy and Public Administration, as “Interns”. These interns would be expected to supplement the process of policy analysis within the Department through desirable empirical collection and collation of in-house and other information. The exposure for the interns to the functioning of the Indian Government may be an add-on in furthering their own career goals in the Non Profit Organisation (NPO) Sector or International Organizations. The internship shall be for a minimum period of 2 months but shall not exceed 6 months in individual cases.
The DoPT identified ten topics for the Interns. The topics are: Analysis of cases disposed of by Central Administrative Tribunal; Collection of Data on Reservation from Ministries and its analysis; Issues relating to Anti-Corruption Law; Issues relating to punishment of Government employees for unethical behavior; Exit policies for inefficient public servants; Best HR practices; Service Conditions; Expectations of Persons with Disabilities employees; Impact evaluation of Mid-Career Training Program of Central Secretariat Service (CSS) Central Secretariat Stenographers Service (CSSS) and Revising methodology of training program.
Eighth Annual Convention of Central Information Commission:
The two day 8th Annual Convention of Central Information Commission was held at New Delhi and inaugurated by the President of India. Shri Ramachandra Guha, noted historian and columnist delivered the keynote address on Democracy in India: Mid-life Crisis. This year the theme of the convention was “Eight years of RTI: A Retrospective”.
The two day convention had three technical sessions on RTI and inclusive growth, RTI-an anti-corruption tool and Media and RTI with eminent panellists taking part in these sessions. The participants included the Information Commissioners of both the Central and State Information Commissions and many RTI and civil society activists, information officers and media personnel took lively interest in all the panel discussions and engaged the panellists in extremely interesting discussions.
Certificate of Excellence to the meritorious employees of Department of Personnel &Training
Shri V.Narayanasamy, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions presented “Certificate of Excellence” to thirty three employees of the Department of Personnel and Training for their services during the year 2012-13 in New Delhi. Recognition of meritorious performance of Government employees is a critical management tool to encourage such employees and also to motivate all the employees to emulate their example.
Department of Personnel & Training has, for the first time, introduced a new non–monetary incentive scheme from this year in the form of award of ‘Certificate of Excellence’ to recognize the contribution of its meritorious employees of the level of Multi Tasking Staff to Under Secretary. This certificate recognizes the dedication to work, excellence in performance and outcome achieved during the year 2012–2013.