New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel has slammed the government over non-implementation of Lokpal and Whistleblowers Protection Act and asked it to take necessary action for their quick operationalisation.
“The Committee expresses its strong displeasure over non-implementation of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 and the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act,” Parliamentary Standing Committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice said in its report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
It is “unfortunate” that the Ministry of Personnel has not taken any steps to amend the Whistleblowers Protection Act. “The Committee recommends that the Ministry should take necessary action for quick operationalisation of both the Acts,” said the panel, headed by Congress MP E M Sudarsana Natchiappan, report.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, which provides for establishment of a Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into corruption charges against public functionaries, came into force from 1 January, last year.
The Centre had recommended certain changes in its through an amendment Bill which was introduced in Lok Sabha on 8 December. The Bill is presently under examination of the same committee (Natchiappan).
The Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2011, which provides a mechanism for protecting the identity of whistleblowers– a term given to people who expose corruption–became a law in May last year.
The Whistleblowers’ Act has not been implemented yet as the government is working on some of its provisions with a view to strengthening the safeguards against disclosures which may prejudicially affect the sovereignty, integrity of the country and security of the state.
The panel has also asked government to check acute staff crunch in the CBI fearing the vacancy may “adversely impact” the quality of investigation done by the agency.
The Parliamentary panel, in its report on Demands for Grants (2015-16) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, said, “On the one hand, the number of investigations being entrusted to CBI is rising but on the other hand, there is an acute staff crunch.
“The Committee fears that if this situation persists for a long time, this may adversely impact the quality of investigation of CBI,” it said asking the government to take “all possible steps to ensure prompt filling of vacancies in CBI”.
There was a vacancy of 1,000 personnel in CBI, as against its sanctioned strength of 6,676, as on January 1, 2015.
The Committee also noted with concern that funds have not been provided to CBI to liquidate its committed liabilities.
“It is not proper for a government organisation not to discharge its committed liabilities and therefore the Committee recommends that Rs 50 crore be allocated to CBI,” the report said.
The CBI during its deposition before the Committee had said that in spite of growing number of investigation being entrusted to it, the non-plan expenditure has not increased accordingly. The CBI has been allocated Rs 480.32 crore for 2015-16.
It was brought to the notice of the Committee that as of February 28, 2015, the agency has accumulated committee liabilities of Rs 52.81 crore. It cited liabilities on account of increase in domestic and foreign travel expenditure and pending liabilities to railways, among others.
The panel also took note of the agency’s modernisation plans that included proposals to set up a centralised technology vertical to provide real time support to investigators, and an international centre for excellence in investigation.
“The Committee takes note of the initiative taken by the CBI and in view of the diverse nature of cases being handled by the organisation is of the view that there should be no compromise on their plans for modernisation,” it said.