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HindustanTimes Sat,12 Jul 2014

'Lokpal half-baked without whistleblower, grievance redress bills'

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 16, 2013
First Published: 22:05 IST(16/12/2013) | Last Updated: 13:20 IST(18/12/2013)

Adopting the Lokpal Bill without other accountability legislations like grievance redress bill and the whistleblower bill will be of not much help, the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) said on Monday.

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Welcoming the government's efforts to ensure passage of the Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha, the campaign said the approval to other pro-people legislations will strengthen the Lokpal Bill and the government should make all efforts in this regard.

Speaking to reporters, Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey and Shekhar Singh of NCPRI said in order to have an effective accountability framework for citizens of the country, it is critical that pending accountability legislations, like the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2010, Whistle Blowers Protection Bill and Judicial Accountability Bill be passed along with the Lokpal Bill.

This was also part of the resolution passed by Parliament in August 2011 mentioning three subjects - a Lokpal which would cover the whole bureaucracy, the establishment of Lokayuktas in states and Citizen's Charter.

They said that of these three promises, two are dealt with through the Lokpal Bill, though not in an ideal manner, but on the third, the Citizen's Charter, there been progress since the Cabinet approved the amendments to the bill in early 2013.

NCPRI said that in discussions with representatives of political parties, they said that they have no objections to the passage of the Grievance Redress Bill and the Whistle Blowers' Protection Bill.

"There is a complete consensus that these bills should be passed," Dey said, adding they have met Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Arun Jaitley of BJP and minister of state in PMO Narayanasamy in this regard.

Singh added that if the current Lokpal Bill is passed incorporating the amendments suggested by the select committee, it would be a significant step.

He, however, added that shortcomings like leaving to the states nature of Lokayuktas should be dealt in the Lokpal Bill. Singh also said that to make the proposed Lokpal effective it should have administrative control over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

"If the Lokpal bill is passed without the Grievance Redress Bill and the Whistle Blowers' Protection Bill, it will be a half-baked measure. It will not even meet the promises made by Parliament in its August 2011 resolution. Therefore, in order to give a comprehensive accountability framework to empower the citizens of India, the simultaneous passage of the Lokpal Bill, the Grievance Redress Bill and the Whistle Blowers' Protection Bill is critical," she said.

Leading civil society activists have also written an open letter to Parliament seeking quick passage of these bills.


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