Weeks after activist Anna Hazare's fast for a stronger anti-graft
law grabbed national attention, the government Wednesday unveiled
a host of steps to curb corruption that included setting up of 71
fast-track special CBI courts, fixing a limit of three months to
grant sanction for prosecution and abolishing discretionary powers
enjoyed by ministers.
Announcing that the government has accepted the recommendations of
a Group of Ministers on corruption, Union Law Minister Salman
Khurshid and Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy said
ministers will no longer have discretionary powers in the
allotment of land, telephone and petrol pumps.
"These powers have been removed", barring in cases of compensation
to victims of Maoist violence by the home ministry and to war
widows by the defence ministry, said Narayanasamy.
The GoM also decided to bring a new policy and a bill on public
procurement in the winter session of Parliament to tackle
corruption and make the procedure more transparent.
"The first report of the GoM has been submitted to the government
and the prime minister has approved many of the recommendations,"
The Group of Ministers (GoM), set up by the government to curb
corruption and improve transparency in governance, was headed by
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Among the proposed measures are: Mere retirement would not be a
ground for dropping proceedings against corrupt government
servants who will now face a 10 percent cut in pension in case of
minor penalty, for a period not exceeding five years.
The major penalty of compulsory retirement with full benefits
would be changed hereafter with a cut of 20 percent in pension.
Further, the permission to initiate legal action against corrupt
officials will be given in a maximum period of three months.
In the event of refusal of sanction to prosecute, the competent
authority would have to submit its order, including the reasons
for refusal, to the next higher authority for information within
seven days, Narayanasamy said.
Wherever the minister in-charge of the department is the competent
authority and he decides to deny permission for prosecution, it
would be incumbent on the minister to report it to the prime
minister within seven days.
Narayanasamy also announced that 71 fast-track CBI courts will try
corruption cases, out of which 44 are already in place.
When asked about the fast-tracking of almost 10,000 pending CBI
cases, he said a committee, headed by a sitting Supreme Court
judge, would be set up for studying cases which have been pending
trial for more than ten years and make recommendations for their
speedy disposal or withdrawal.
The committee, which would look at cases under the Prevention of
Corruption Act, would include retired CVC, CBI Director and
another person of impeccable repute from civil society, he said.
The government announced that the prime minister will hold
consultations with all political parties on the issue of electoral
reforms, a key issue raised by Team Anna. Contentious issues like
the Right to recall and measures to keep those with criminal
records away from electoral process will be part of the
The government will bring in a national-level Citizen's Charter
bill to ensure timely delivery of public services.
On tackling corruption in judiciary, Khurshid said the government
will look into setting up of a Judicial Commission for appointment
Narayanasamy said he was hopeful that the Lokpal Bill would be
studied by the Standing Committee and tabled in parliament in the
On amendment to Art 311 of the Constitution to provide for summary
proceedings in cases of grave misdemeanour or acts of blatant
corruption by public servants, it was felt that there was need to
strike a balance between fundamental rights of individuals and
"Yes Article 311 will remain untouched," Narayansamy said.
The GoM has also suggested making the departments and ministries
to primarily use serving officers as inquiry and presenting
officers in one of the steps towards speeding up the inquiry
"The committee has recommended that the vigilance officers
especially the investigating officer should not be by name but by
designation so that the other officer, who is appointed can
continue the inquiry in any case," Narayanasamy said, adding that
delay in many a cases occurred due to change of investigating
In important cases, the officers may request the Central Vigilance
Commission to appoint their Commissioner of Direct Inquiries as
The GoM also decided to dispense with the practice of seeking
second stage advise of the CVC in corruption cases.