Insights Daily Current Events, December 17, 2013
December 17, 2013
The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) has sought the simultaneous passage of the Lokpal Bill, the Grievance Redress Bill and the Whistleblower Protection Bill, contending that these laws formed would contain inter-linked measures that constituted the much required accountability regime.
The rights of citizens for time-bound delivery of Goods & Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011
Highlights of the Bill:
- The Bill seeks to create a mechanism to ensure timely delivery of goods and services to citizens.
- Every public authority is required to publish a citizens charter within six months of the commencement of the Act. The Charter will detail the goods and services to be provided and their timelines for delivery.
- A citizen may file a complaint regarding any grievance related to: (a) citizens charter; (b) functioning of a public authority; or (c) violation of a law, policy or scheme.
- The Bill requires all public authorities to appoint officers to redress grievances. Grievances are to be redressed within 30 working days. The Bill also provides for the appointment of Central and State Public Grievance Redressal Commissions.
- A penalty of up to Rs 50,000 may be levied upon the responsible officer or the Grievance Redressal Officer for failure to render services.
For more information refer the below link,
The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, 2011
Commonly known as the Whistleblower’s Bill, it seeks to establish a mechanism to register complaints on any allegations of corruption or willful misuse of power against a public servant. The Bill also provides safeguards against victimisation of the person who makes the complaint.
Highlights of the Bill:
- The Bill seeks to protect whistleblowers, i.e. persons making a public interest disclosure related to an act of corruption, misuse of power, or criminal offence by a public servant.
- Any public servant or any other person including a non-governmental organization may make such a disclosure to the Central or State Vigilance Commission.
- Every complaint has to include the identity of the complainant.
- The Vigilance Commission shall not disclose the identity of the complainant except to the head of the department if he deems it necessary. The Bill penalises any person who has disclosed the identity of the complainant.
- The Bill prescribes penalties for knowingly making false complaints.
For more information refer the below link,
Lokpal: institutional mechanism to curb corruption
- In the newly amended Lokpal Bill, the Union government has dropped the provisions relating to establishing Lok Ayuktas at the State level; instead, the States would need to put in place their own institutions within one year. A composite law may be preferable from the people’s point of view, but the concession is in compliance to the need to federalise the anti-corruption domain. Contrary to what its critics say, the bill cannot be dismissed as weak; nor can it be seriously contended that the Lokpal does not have an independent investigative mechanism.
- The CBI has been placed at the disposal of the Lokpal, which will have superintendence over that agency in cases under its consideration. The need for sanction from the respective governments to initiate prosecution has been waived for cases cleared by the Lokpal. The CBI Director’s appointment will be on the basis of a statutory process, and the Lokpal will have its own inquiry and prosecution wings.
- The movement for such a law initiated by Anna Hazare, along with the success of the Aam Aadmi Party based on the campaign for a Lokpal, has made fresh legislation unavoidable. The development is unlikely to end the debate over the adequacy, independence and effectiveness of the anti-graft institution the new law will put in place, but it will certainly be a milestone in the quest for an institutional mechanism to combat corruption.
- The mere enactment of this Bill is not enough. The amendment to the Constitution needed to confer constitutional status to the Lokpal and Lok Ayuktas also needs to be passed. And so does the proposed law on the right of citizens to time-bound delivery of goods and services and to have their grievances redressed. Only this will fulfil the need for a strong institutional framework to curb corruption.
- What is Corruption? Types of Corruption? Impact of corruption on the society, economy? Also link it with Ethics and Integrity; Code of conduct.
- What are the steps taken by the govt in order to curb corruption? Role of Civil society?
- What are the existing mechanisms in India to curb corruption? How effective are these mechanisms?
- What according to you should be really done in this regard? Suggestions from your side.
- Is Lokpal a panacea for all problems?
Iran backs deep-sea gas pipeline to India
- Iran is focusing on exporting natural gas to India along a deep-sea route, the move coinciding with the cancellation of a $500-million loan to Islamabad to build the Pakistani section of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and the signing of the Geneva nuclear accord that could help relax sanctions against Iran.
- Negotiations were held with three Indian companies for purchase of gas from Iran, and general agreements have been reached.
- It is a multi-billion-dollar undersea pipeline, which could carry gas from Iran’s giant South Pars gas field to India’s west coast. Once operational, it could channel 31 million cubic meters of gas per day.
- There were no technical hurdles to build the deep sea pipeline, and the project, which was financially viable, could be completed in 4-5 years, once the sanctions against Iran are lifted.
Mind – Mapping:
- What is the significance of the gas pipe-line to India?
- How would this impact India, Iran, and Pakistan’s relationship?
- India’s approach towards meeting its energy needs? Steps taken by the govt. in this regard.
Finance Ministry backs cap on gas prices
- In the backdrop of a draft Cabinet note floated by the Petroleum Ministry to allow Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) to charge higher prices and furnish bank guarantee for the shortfall in the KG D6 gas production till it is verified by independent experts, the Finance Ministry has strongly pitched for putting a cap on the prices of natural gas, likely to come into effect from April 1, 2014, under the new pricing policy.
Issue with Gas pricing:
- The Finance Ministry has said that it was important to put a ceiling on the gas price to protect the interests of both the government and the consumers in case there is an unreasonable increase in the gas prices. On similar lines, the Fertilizer and Power Ministries had already warned that, this could lead to a much higher outgo of subsidy.
- The Cabinet had, in June, 2013 approved the Rangarajan formula for gas pricing to be made effective for five years from April, 2014, with a provision for a quarterly provision.
- The new formula has yet not been notified, as the Finance Ministry had wanted that RIL should be denied the higher gas prices from its existing fields because output had fallen far below what was committed in the approved development plan. Initially, the Petroleum Ministry agreed with the Finance Ministry’s opinion but then recently it has moved a revised note, suggesting that RIL be asked to give bank guarantee which can be encashed if it was proven that the company had hoarded gas by deliberately keeping output low.
- On the positive side, the ceiling would take care of the interest of the gas producers as a downswing in international market may adversely impact their financial fortunes and a ceiling would provide them a much desired stability.
- What was the basis of Rangarajan’s formula on ‘gas pricing’? On what basis are the international pricing of the gas done? How is it done in India?
- What is the issue with the Gas pricing? Why is the cap proposed? How would this impact the Government, the producers and the end customers?