Armed with public statements from Rahul Gandhi,the Congress leadership has been toying with the idea of the government reconvening Parliament for a few days to clear six pending bills,all crucial to fighting corruption. Though the Lokpal Bill has been passed and received the Presidents assent,it will not be too effective until some of these pending bills too are passed and notified. Of the six among which the Whistleblowers Protection Bill,2011 has been in the works for over 15 years four are pending in the Lok Sabha and two in the Rajya Sabha. A look at the six proposed laws and their possible impact:
The prevention of Corruption(Amendment) Bill,2013
Introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August,this bill if passed will make Indias main anti-graft law compliant with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption,to which India is a signatory. The proposed bill,which stands referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee,will plug various gaps in the description and coverage of the offence of bribery. Among various things,the amendments provide for a more comprehensive definition of the offence of public graft,and for punishment to the bribe giver,too,besides making it mandatory for the competent authority to sanction prosecution of an accused within three months of a complaint.
The prevention of bribery of foreign public officials and public international organisations bill,2011
Introduced in the Lok Sabha in March 2011,this standalone legislation aims to ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption,which India signed in 2005. It aims to provide for a mechanism to deal with bribery among foreign public officials and officials of public international organisations doing business in India or with Indian companies. Under this proposed law,the government would be empowered to attach,seize and confiscate property of both bribe-takers and bribe-givers. It also has a provision for extradition of an accused official. The Centre would also have the authority to enter into agreements with other countries.
The right of citizens for time-bound delivery of goods and services and redressal of thier grievence bill,2011
Introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011,this one proposes to create a mechanism to ensure timely delivery of goods and services to citizens. Within six months of this law coming into effect,each government department will have to publish a citizens charter giving details of the goods and services to be provided and their delivery timelines. It would also empower the citizen to file a complaint regarding failure of a government department to redress his grievances. It provides for appointment of central and state public grievance redressal commissions. The government might bring in amendments as suggested by the standing committee in its report.
The public procurement bill,2011
Introduced in the Lok Sabha,this bill is pending with the Parliamentary Standing Committee. It aims to regulate public procurement so as to ensure transparency,and fair and equitable treatment of bidders by promoting competition and making the procurement process for projects over Rs 50 lakh clean. The bill provides for imprisonment up to five years to any public servant who accepts a bribe in connection with the bidding process.
The judicial standards and accountability bill,2010
Pending in Parliament since 2010,this bill provides for enforceable standards of conduct for members of the superior judiciary. It would make it mandatory for Supreme Court and high court judges to declare details of their and their family members assets and liabilities. It also provides for a detailed mechanism to handle complaints against judges on grounds of misbehaviour or incapacity. It provides for a national judicial oversight committee,a complaints scrutiny panel,and an investigation committee.
The whistleblowers protection bill,2011
Passed by the Lok Sabha in December 2011,the bill seeks to establish a mechanism to entertain complaints on allegations of corruption or wilful misuse of power against a public servant,while,at the same time,providing for safeguards against victimisation of the complainant in case he is exposing the misdeeds of his seniors or colleagues in an organisation. The bill proposes to penalise any person who discloses the identity of the complainant.