First most central ministers got around Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s nudge to relinquish discretionary powers. Now, they aren’t even drawing up the parameters to exercise their powers.
The department of personnel & training – that has Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has its cabinet minister – has sent out missive this week to heads of 64 departments to quickly frame guidelines and explain why they have missed their deadlines by a year.
Gandhi had appealed to central ministers and Congress chief ministers to give up their discretionary powers at the Congress’ 83rd plenary session at Burari at the outskirts of Delhi. This was in December 2010 at a time the UPA was battling perceptions that it wasn’t not doing enough to fight corruption.
The Prime Minister’s Office referred the suggestion to the Group of Ministers on corruption that started by asking all departments to list out their discretionary powers. It turned out that a majority of ministers did not exercise any discretionary power.
But a little over a dozen departments conceded the minister had a free hand to select officers, appoint anyone to councils and committees under its charge and provide financial assistance.
In May 2012, the department of personnel & training asked everyone to put “regulatory parameters” in place for exercise of the discretionary powers, put them in public domain to minimise arbitrariness and report compliance.
With multiple reminders not making a difference, DoPT joint secretary Deepti Umashankar on Tuesday took up the delays with secretaries of 64 departments, pointing that they hadn’t received any information from their departments.