FAQs on the Lok Pal Bill Standing Committee

We wrote an FAQ on the Lok Pal Bill for Rediff.  http://www.rediff.com/news/special/special-parliamentary-committee-canno... The Lok Pal Bill has been referred to the Standing Committee of Parliament on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice.  In this FAQ, we explain the process of these Committees. What is the role of such standing committees? The system of departmentally related standing committees was instituted by Parliament in 1993.  Currently, there are 24 such committees, organised on the lines of departments and ministries.  For example, there are committees on finance, on home affairs, on defence etc.  These standing committees examine Bills that are referred to them.  They also examine the expenditure plans of ministries in the Union Budget.  In addition, they may examine the working of the departments and various schemes of the government. How is the membership of these committees decided? Each committee has 31 members: 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.  Parties are allocated seats based on their strength in Parliament.  The final membership is decided based on the MP’s area of interest as well as their party’s decision on allocating the seats. Who chairs the committees? Of the 24 committees, 16 are administered by Lok Sabha and eight by Rajya Sabha.  The Chairperson is from the respective House.  Political parties are allocated the chairs based on their strength in Parliament.  Some committees such as home affairs, finance and external affairs are customarily chaired by a senior member of an opposition party. What will the Standing Committee do with the Lok Pal Bill? The Committee has invited comments and suggestions from the public on the Bill.  Comments can be sent to Mr. KP Singh, Director, Rajya Sabha Secretariat, 201, Second Floor, Parliament House Annexe, New Delhi -110001.  These may also be emailed to kpsingh@sansad.nic.in or rs-cpers@sansad.nic.in.  The Committee will examine the written memoranda.  They will also invite some experts and stakeholders for oral evidence.  Based on its examination, the committee will prepare a report with its recommendations on the various provisions of the Bill.  This report will be tabled in Parliament. Is the report decided by voting? No.  The committee tries to form a consensus while preparing the report.  However, if some members do not agree on any point, they may add a dissent note.  For example, the committee on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill had dissent notes written by MPs from the left parties.  The Women’s Reservation Bill also had dissent notes from a couple of members. Are the committee’s recommendations binding? No.  The Committee system was formed recognising that Parliament does not have the time for detailed examination and public feedback on all bills.  Parliament, therefore, delegates this task to the committee which reports back with its recommendations.  It is the role of all MPs in each House of Parliament to examine the recommendations and move suitable amendments.  Following this, Parliament can vote on these amendments, and finalise the Bill. Can you give examples when the Committee’s work has resulted in significant changes? There are many such instances.  For example, the standing committee on science and technology examined the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill.  The committee made several recommendations, some of which increased the potential liability of suppliers of nuclear equipment in case of an accident.  All the recommendations were accepted.  Similarly, the Seeds Bill, which is currently pending in Rajya Sabha has seen several major recommendations by the Committee on Agriculture.  The government has agreed to move amendments that accept many of these recommendations. Are all Bills referred to Standing Committees? Most Bills are referred to such committees but this is not a mandatory requirement before passing a Bill.  In some cases, if a Bill is not referred to a committee and passed by one House, the other House may constitute a select committee for detailed examination.  Some recent examples include such select committees formed by the Rajya Sabha on the Prevention of Torture Bill, the Wakf Amendment Bill, and the Commercial Divisions of High Courts Bill.  There are also some instances when a Bill may be passed without the committee process. Is it a good idea to bypass the committee process? In general, this process provides a platform for various stakeholders to provide their inputs.  In the Lok Pal case, a few influential groups such as the India Against Corruption (IAC) and the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) have voiced their views.  However, there may be other points of views of persons who do not have similar access to the media.  The Standing Committee provides equal opportunity to everyone to write in their memoranda.  It also allows parliamentarians to devote a significant amount of time to understand the nuances of a Bill and make suitable modifications.  Thus, the standing committee system is an opportunity to strengthen legislation in an informed and participatory manner. Is it feasible to compress this process within 10 days and get the Lok Pal Bill passed within the current session of Parliament? There should be sufficient time for citizens to provide inputs to the committee.  The committee has to examine the different points of view and find suitable provisions to achieve the final objectives.  For example, there are divergent views on the role of Lok Pal, its constitution, its jurisdiction etc.  The Committee has to understand the implications of the various proposals and then make its recommendations.  It has been given three months to do so.  Typically, most committees ask for an extension and take six to eight months.  It is not practical to expect this process to be over within 10 days. Should civil society demand that the government issue a whip and pass the Jan Lok Pal Bill? Everyone has the right to make any demand.  However, the government is duty bound to follow the Constitution.  Our Constitution has envisaged a Parliamentary system.  Each MP is expected to make up their minds on each proposal based on their perception of national interest and people’s will.  Indeed, one may say that the best way to ensure a representative system is to remove the anti-defection law, minimise the use of whips, and let MPs vote their conscience.  That may give us a more accountable government.


BS Tripathi's picture

Following points are suggested to be included in the Lokpal Bill under progress in the Parliament 1. Provision for approaching an agency who can take immediate action on following points which are general in nature but being faced by common man regularly. a. Complaint in case of a police station not Registring an FIR. b. Complaint against a TTE not alloting a berth as per seniority to a passenger under waiting list. c. A large no. of Gram pradhans not spending money being allotted to them and showing as expenditure only on papers. A provision to be made that MP/ MLA/ Gram pradhans to show their expenditure of allotted funds on a website specially opened by them on a quaterly basis and total expenditure on annual basis for information of general public. d. Every village has Angan Bari and for that ladies are being employed in every village funds , eatables drawn by them are not at all being used by general public against whom drawn , but only shown on papers and being verified by concerned agencies which is of a great concern. e. Time limits to be fixed for the judgement of any particular case in a Court. f. Immediate action to be taken in corruption offence commited by a person in public places like terrorist attack / asking bribes by babus especially by traffic Police/ RTO offices etc..

Questionnaire Ethics in Governance I-LEGAL FRAMEWORK 1.Should there be a national policy for eradication of corruption? What should such a policy enunciate? 2.Is the definition of corruption as per the Prevention of Corruption Act, adequate? Is there a need to expand the definition in view of the UN Convention to which India is a signatory? Should corruption in the private sector also get included in the definition? 3.Should India have a law similar to the U.S. False Claims Act? 4.Is India over regulated? Are there laws/rules which create a climate for which facilitates corruption? 5.Shortages of goods and services lead to creation. How can these shortages be eliminated? 6.Does the Constitution and laws give undue protection to the civil servants? Is there a case to revisit Article 311? 7.Should controlling officers be held answerable for misdemeanors of their subordinates for not exercising proper supervision? 8.Are new laws required, such as dealing with the wealth acquired through illegitimate means? II-ETIHICS INFRASTRUCTURE 1.What specific measures are required to strengthen the ethical foundations of the fight against corruption? 2.What legal/institutional/administrative measures are required to effectively tame political corruption? 3.Should we have a Code a Conduct for Ministers? What should it include? 4.Should we have a Code of Conduct for elected members? What should it include? 5.What should be the necessary ingredients of a Code of Conduct for civil servants? 6.Should there be a Code of Conduct for professionals and professional bodies? III-INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISM AT THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA 1.Is the existing institutional mechanism, comprising the CVC and the CBI adequate to combat corruption? 2.Have controlling officers, over period of time been giving less attention to curb corruption among their subordinates? Would creation of institutions by itself eliminate corruption? Are external institutional mechanisms a substitute to internal vigilance? How to strengthen internal vigilance? 3.Is the procedure for obtaining vigilance clearance for officers before posting them in Government of India, effective? If not what measures should be taken to improve it? 4.What mechanism id required to ensure that only upright officers are posted to sensitive jobs? IV-INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISM AT THE STATE GOVERNMENTS 1.What should be the relation between the Lokayukta, the State Vigilance Commissioner and the Anti Corruption Bureaus? 2.The institution of Lokayukta differs from state to state. Can best features of each one of these be picked up to have a uniform framework in all states? 3.How to ensure autonomy for these institutions and at the same time holding them accountable? 4.Corruption at cutting edge levels hurts the common man. Are special measures required to combat this? 5.What needs to be done to transfer power closer to people so that the decision making power point is near to the people? Would this increase accountability? V-PROCEDURAL ISSUES 1.How to ensure that persons with integrity are posted in sensitive posts? 2.Should there be a mechanism for keeping a watch over the integrity of civil servants? Which agency should be entrusted this task? 3.At present there is a system of getting vigilance clearance? How can this be improved? 4.What safeguards are required to protect honest officials from harassment? Does the existing provision of taking prior sanction of Government before registration of cases, necessary? How to ensure that this does not become a shield for corrupt officers? 5.Is the requirement of taking prior sanction of government before registering a case, a hindrance in fight against corruption? How does one safeguard honest official from harassment? 6.Would outsourcing of some functions by regulatory agencies lead to reduction in corruption? What functions could be outsourced? VI-PREVENTIVE MEASURES 1.Introducing competition gives choice to users/consumers. How can competition be introduced in service delivery by governmental agencies? 2.Over-regulation increases scope for corruption. Which are the areas where regulation can be reduced? 3.Should mandatory pre-audit of all major procurements/contracts be carried out? 4.Systemic reforms can help in reducing scope for corruption. Which are the sectors which lend themselves for such systemic reforms? How can such systemic reforms be brought about? 5.Use of technology can help in reducing discretion and thus bring in objectivity? What are the obstacles in use of modern technology in governance? How can these be overcome? 6.Should there be a Whistle Blowers Act? 7.Is there a necessity to have ‘Civil Service Values’ spelt out in a separate Civil Services Law? VII-CITIZENS INITIATIVES 1.What mechanism is required to actively involve citizens in fight against corruption? 2.Could the ‘sting operations’ be given a legal backing? 3.How can the stakeholders be involved in monitoring corruption in service delivery organizations? 4.Should there be a system of evaluating and ranking offices based on corruption indices and then linking incentives to such evaluation. For Consideration. Author NK. Col Dharma
sajjan's picture

please gave me cell no of sri aanaji or sri kejdiwalji
pradeep's picture

Good info about PSCs. well...the process and facts related to standing committees is fine...but its really funny to believe that a bill being presented ten times was not deliberated enough. Here the question is not about making an opinion about the bill rather its taking a decision. If govt. really want to make an effective institution it can do it in a week, and if they just want to stretch it further as its happening since decades..no process will ever be completed. Participative democracy is the new paradigm of democracy. Democracy is not just about having election and having a parliament. Its about giving people chance to influence decision that affect them. Politicians are supposed to do this for public but if they are too busy making money for themselves, public has to come to forefront. After all the constitution itself draws power from the people of INDIA.
Birendra Oraon's picture

The Constitution process is above all. It should be always maintained. Every one among the citizen has right to make demand only if they are obeying the citizen duties & abiding the Constitution. If 120 crores 9999999 people other than Parliamentary System will raise voice against the Govt. in power, then also the Laws of the Constitution is above all. If in case the Govt. allow unconstitutional process due to the pressure of the people then the fabric of Indian Constitution will be under great threat from the anti-social or anti-Govt. people. Hence let us encourage true Indian to give constructive contribution for the development of the Nation. Instead of strike, protest, rally, fast which will slow down economic growth & create law & order problem. Let us obey the Constitution for National Interest & glory as a whole. Jai Hind, Jai Jawan, Jai Kissan, Jai Vidhwan..... Birendra.
Adv.Balagangadharan's picture

Sucess of Anna Hazare raises a question of redefining politician in Indian context. It is high timeto think how a politician live, what is his avocation, what is his activities. An ordinary politician in Indian context helps general public to jump out of que to get some benefits, helps to get things done which could not be done directly, undue influence on the |Govt. to sanction benefits over looking very many, undue influences inthe day today administration in making appointmnts, tender, transfers of G0vt. sevants etc. In total extraneous activity is his main avocation. Except very few most of them are incompetent to make laws, understand laws and interpret laws. Many of them do not now what is his contribution. He feels to attend funerals, marriage and other congression in his constituency to make his presnece felt. Comment on common issues on plat forms, TV interviews etc. It is seen that a law abiding citizen never approach a Politician in his life time.

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