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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Delhi: all govt-funded organisations in janlokpal bill?

Neelam Pandey , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 15, 2014
First Published: 00:36 IST(15/1/2014) | Last Updated: 12:08 IST(15/1/2014)

Did a private school demand donation to admit your child? Or a private hospital overcharge you for a medical procedure? Any such complaint may soon be heard by the lokayukta under the new janlokpal bill to be tabled in the Delhi assembly next month.

To make private organisations funded directly or indirectly by the state government more accountable, the Aam Aadmi Party-led government is all set to include them in the draft bill, which is likely to be submitted Wednesday.

Read: Deliver in time or face graft charges under Janlokpal: CM
 
Any NGO or organisation directly or indirectly, partially or fully funded by the government will be treated as a public authority, sources said. They will be answerable to the lokayukta and will have to provide time-bound services, failing which people can complain to the anti-corruption watchdog.

“For instance, power distribution companies, private schools and hospitals provided land at cheaper rates by the government will come under the lokayukta’s purview,” said a senior Delhi government official.
 
“Any NGO or organisation substantially funded by the government is likely to come under the lokayukta’s ambit. But this is yet to be finalised,” said Rahul Mehra, a member of the committee drafting the janlokpal bill who is also part of AAP’s expert committee on judicial reforms.

Read: AAP is a govt of 'call centre and helpline': Congress
 

The ‘Delhi janlokpal bill’ seeks to repeal the existing lokayukta in the state, termed “toothless and ineffective” by AAP, and replace it with a more powerful watchdog. In addition, these entities will have to produce a citizen’s charter detailing time limits for various services.

Presently, Delhi is plagued by multiplicity of authorities. In the case of private schools, complaints about nursery admissions or fee hike are looked at by the directorate of education but issues related to school infrastructure, teacher attendance aren’t under direct control of the state government.

Read: AAP's national reach: Can Kejriwal capture imagination of Indians across the country?
 
Private hospitals, too, don’t come under the government.

The three municipal corporations will come under the bill’s ambit, sources said, but it is yet to be decided if the Delhi Development Authority and police will be included too as they work under the direct control of the central government.

“If DDA and Delhi Police are not brought under the janlokpal bill, the concerns of a large chunk of the population will not be addressed,” said the official.

The janlokpal bill was an important election issue for AAP, which had promised to pass it within 15 days of assuming power. On coming to power, the government formed a six-member committee chaired by chief secretary SK Srivastava to fast-track the draft bill. It plans to hold an assembly session at Ramlila Maidan in February first week to pass the bill.

The committee held its first meeting on Friday with a study of the draft of the Uttarakhand lokayukta bill, which was praised by Anna Hazare. It is also looking at Hazare’s version of the janlokpal bill — which sought to cover all Delhi government public officials, including the CM, ministers and MLAs, as well as municipal councillors, required them to furnish an annual declaration of assets, and recommended dismissal, a prison sentence and confiscation of property for any public official found guilty of corruption.


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