The constitutional provision that provides safeguards to more than three crore central and state government employees across the country against summary dismissal from service needs to be reviewed, according to the parliamentary panel examining the lokpal bill.
The parliamentary standing committee on law and justice, headed by Congress member Abhishek Singhvi, which is set to give its report next week, has concluded that constitutional protection provided to the bureaucracy was turning out to be a “major obstacle” in taking departmental action against corrupt officials.
The panel will recommend that Article 311 of the Indian Constitution “requires a close and careful relook” to ensure that reasonable protection is given to bureaucrats for independent and fair discharge of duty, but procedural rules should not prevent departmental action against corrupt officials.
The article states that no government employee can be dismissed from service without an inquiry “in which he has been informed of the charges against him/her and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.”
Demands for scrapping this article have also been raised in the past.
The second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) headed by M Veerappa Moily had favoured doing away with Article 311.
Anna Hazare and his team have also been demanding scrapping of this article, saying it acts as a “shield to protect corrupt bureaucrats.”
The nine-member Group of Ministers (GoM), set up by PM Manmohan Singh to suggest effective measures to tackle corruption earlier this year, however, had decided against amending this provision. But the parliamentary panel, which has members from all political parties, has a different view.
“Bureaucratic corruption has been relatively ignored or underplayed in the context of excessive media and civil society focus on political corruption,” states its draft report.
“Substantial modification of Article 311 or, indeed, its replacement by a much lesser statutory (not constitutional counterpart) should be taken up and implemented at the earliest,” states the parliamentary panel. It has also concluded that this provision has become a “haven for those indulging in corruption with no fear of consequences and the certainty of endless delay.”