The National Advisory Council headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday decided that every law or scheme giving entitlements to people should have an autonomous grievance redressal mechanism.
There is no such mechanism under the Forest Rights Act, which recognizes rights of tribal and forest communities, and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), a scheme entitling maximum 100 days of employment in a year.
"The NAC decided that there should be some authority for grievance redressal in law and schemes providing entitlements," said NAC member N C Saxena.
The issue came up when the NAC was discussing an autonomous framework for people to complain, in case they don't get food, under the proposed National Food Security bill, whose concept note has already been submitted to the government.
There is a consensus on the format of the draft bill likely to be made public by mid January. The working group on the bill has been asked to come out with a more analytical note for further deliberations.
The NAC has also recommended that instead of institution based nutrition programme the Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry should focus on home based nutrition.
"Most of the malnutrition creeps into the child in first one year of birth. And, during this period it is difficult to bring a child to an Anganwadi center for food. Therefore, better would be to devise a programme to provide nutritious food at home," a NAC member said.
The NAC has also asked the WCD ministry to have a re-look at Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010 to bring domestic helps under its purview and deleting a provision for punishing those found guilty of a false complaint.
"Given the fear of reprisal, which routinely prevents women from coming forward to seek protection against sexual harassment at the work place, the safeguards provided to them by this Bill are weakened by the inclusion of Clause 14 (Punishment for false or malicious complaint and false evidence), which might deter victims from seeking protection of the proposed legislation," the NAC said in a statement.
The NAC also decided to seek comments of the ministry of Tribal Affairs and Environment ministry on poor implementation of the Forest Rights Act. A committee headed by Saxena had earlier this month found that community has been granted for only 20,000 hectares of land as against four crore hectares available.
"We have sent our recommendations on proposed changes in FRA rules and have sought comments of the two ministries," Saxena said.
The council has also suggested a sweeping change in world biggest child nutrition programme, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) by asking the government to focus on children in six to 12 months age group, rather than in the age group of three to five years.