1 SEPTEMBER 2014
Vala sworn in as Governor of Karnataka
Vajubhai Vala, former Gujarat Assembly Speaker and an old trusted aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was today sworn in as Governor of Karnataka.
76-year-old Vala was administered oath of office by Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court D H Waghela at a ceremony at Raj Bhavan.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Union Ministers D V Sadananda Gowda and Ananth Kumar, state ministers, leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Jagadish Shettar, BJP Vice-President B S Yeddyurappa and senior bureaucrats were present at the event.
Vala took the oath in Hindi.With a strong RSS background, Vala had served in the Modi Government in Gujarat as Finance Minister before he was elected as Speaker in January last year. He has an impressive record of having presented the state budget 18 times.
Vala succeeds Rosaiah, Tamil Nadu Governor who was given additional charge of Karnataka, post the retirement of H R Bharadwaj on June 28.
A B.Sc., LL.B graduate, Vala entered public life as a Swayamsevak of RSS during his school days. He became Mayor of Rajkot city in February 1983 and was elected as an MLA for the first time in 1985 from Rajkot-2 constituency.
On the eve of the swearing-in, Siddaramaiah had yesterday expressed unhappiness over the Modi Government not consulting him about his appointment to the state.”… it is customary that the Chief Minister is consulted before appointing the new Governor; they have done this (appointment) without consulting me,” he had said.
Siddaramaiah, however, said now that Vala had been appointed, he would welcome him.
Taking up the gubernatorial responsibility in an opposition (Congress) ruled state, Vala has said in interviews that he would work under the provisions of the Constitution and would be on the right side of the law.
The previous BJP Government when headed by B S Yeddyurappa had strained relations with Bhardwaj who was then seen as being at loggerheads with the opposition-ruled state. His relationship with the D V Sadananda Gowda and Jagadish Shettar governments was, however, normal
10th February 2014
Honest officers should not be harassed for bonafide mistakes:
Holding that honest officers should not be harassed for bonafide mistakes made while making “well-meaning” decisions, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today warned that if this was not done, decision making will suffer badly and governance will be stifled.
He also called for moderation of public debate about corruption as “unwarranted condemnation” of the decisions and imputation of “guilt and malafide” on decision makers need to change.
Addressing the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the Prime Minister said it was an ultimate aim of any anti-corruption mechanism to contribute towards improvement of the processes of governance and delivery of services which can happen only when bold and innovative decision-making was encouraged.
“Therefore, we must make sure that honest officers are not harassed for bonafide mistakes that they might make while taking well-meaning decisions,” he said, adding that CVC should live upto the words of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri who had said the commission should be a fearless champion of the man of integrity and source of terror to corrupt officers.
The Prime Minister said during the last 10 years of UPA rule, fight against corruption has undergone transformation with time.
“This process of change has particularly picked up in the last 10 years of the UPA government. New laws have been enacted to ensure probity, transparency and accountability in administration,” Singh said, citing statutes like the Right to Information Act and the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act.
He said that there have been very vigorous debate on corruption in the country in which civil society and media were active participants.
“I believe that this debate has been for the good. It has led not only to increased awareness in the people about their rights and the responsibilities of public authorities but also a realisation in public authorities of the heightened expectations that people have from them,” he said.
Singh said, “In the past few years, we have been witnessing a very vigorous public debate in our country on matters relating to corruption, with accusations flying thick and fast.
“While informed discussion on such matters is certainly desirable, much too often we see a trivialisation of complex public policy issues. This is accompanied by unwarranted condemnation of the decisions taken and imputation of guilt and malafide on part of those who took the decisions,” the Prime Minister said, noting that “there is a need to change this state of affairs.” Expressing willingness to further insulating CBI, the Prime Minister, however, said that oversight of political executives was expected in a democracy.
“Investigating agencies have always enjoyed complete autonomy in investigation of criminal cases. Our government has also been willing to do more to insulate the CBI from extraneous influences.
“However, it is also necessary to ensure that the political executive exercises the oversight that it is expected to in a democratic polity over any investigating agency,” Singh said.
He said another balance that agencies like CVC must maintain is between the need to be careful and detailed and the need for speed.
“Matters like disciplinary proceedings and grant of vigilance clearance must be disposed of in time. Excessive delays make such exercises meaningless,” he said.
The Prime Minister said a number of new laws are under consideration of Parliament which include the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, the Public Procurement Bill and a bill to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act.
“These legislative initiatives have been accompanied by administrative steps in the same direction. Greater use of information and communications technology has also helped in increasing transparency and reducing opportunities for corrupt practices,” he said.
7th February 2014
Bihar sacks 95 corrupt officers
Showing zero tolerance against corruption, the Bihar government has sacked 95 corrupt officials and will dismiss 21 more this month and 129 in March, it was announced Friday.
“The government has begun taking action against corrupt officers,” Chief Secretary A.K. Sinha told reporters.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had ordered speedy investigation against the corrupt in the government.
Till now, the vigilance department has chargesheeted 856 public servants for corruption. The latest dismissals came after departmental proceedings established corruption charges against them.
In the last one month, the Economic Offences Unit of Bihar Police raided half-a-dozen officers in Patna and elsewhere in the state and found assets worth crores of rupees disproportionate to their known income.
The Bihar government has initiated the process of confiscating property of half-a-dozen officials.
The government has seized the houses of an IAS officer, an IPS officer and a treasury clerk in Patna and handed them over to schools.
10th January 2014
‘Govt delaying sanction to
The Lokayukta, Justice (retd) Y Bhaskar Rao, has said he would seek the Governor’s intervention if the State government further delayed the sanction to prosecute officers accused of corruption.
The Lokayukta had a long list of officers whose prosecution was yet to be sanctioned by the government, Justice Rao told a press conference on ‘Lokayukta Day’ here on Thursday.So far, the government had given only 75 sanction orders whereas 94 other cases and 24 requests had been pending with it for more than a year, he added. “I would be forced to make a detailed representation to the Governor, seeking his intervention as per Section 12 (5) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act if the government fails to address the problem.”
At the start of 2013, as many as 13,619 cases were pending and the number of complaints received last year was 4,335. Around 11,010 complaints were disposed of last year whereas 6,944 are pending. The Lokayukta sent 736 reports to the government on various issues of administration in 2013.
The Lokayukta further said some government officials had failed to act on the proposal seeking sanction for prosecution. A probe had begun against such officers under the Lokayukta Act and notices served on a few of them, he added.
Justice Rao said he had requested the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, D H Waghela, to ensure legal assistance to illiterate public to fill complaint forms through legal aid clinics.
He said Chief Justice Waghela had accepted his request to direct the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority in that regard. He also said the measures taken by the Lokayukta made the government to implement the biometric attendance system in all colleges and sanction 1,000 more rooms in hostels run by the social welfare department.
Besides, directions had been given to distribute title deeds to beneficiaries of Ashraya scheme within deadline, Justice Rao added.
9th January 2014
CM makes every Delhiite an ‘anti-
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal virtually turned every Delhiite into an anti-corruption inspector with the launch of his much awaited helpline on Wednesday. He urged citizens to join hands with the government against corruption. He asked the victims of corruption to do a sting operation or record the voice of the corrupt official as a proof for anti-corruption department.
“I would like to call every Delhiite to join us in the battle against corruption. With the launch of the helpline number, every citizen will become an anti corruption inspector and they will not be needing any gun or baton, their mobile phone will become their weapon against corruption. Complainants will have to do a sting operation or even record the voice of the culprit and then inform on helpline number 011-27357169 which will be operational every day from 8 am to 10 pm,” he said adding that he will try to get a three or four digit parallel number for this within a week.
Describing the government’s efforts and delay in providing the service, he said the anti-corruption branch of Delhi was in very “poor” condition.“The plan was got delayed as we had to work on the back end of the bureau. The anti-corruption bureau of Delhi government was heavily understaffed, nobody was posted in the department from years and many other technicalities led to the delay in the plan,” he said.
Kejriwal categorically said that it is a helpline number and not a complain number.
“Anyone just cannot complain about any official, the number will provide government’s assistance. If anyone calls at this number, the call centre will record his name and mobile number and problem, the very next day, an advisor from the anti-corruption department will call the complainant back and suggest him how to collect evidence.
Once the evidence, video or audio, is collected, the advisor will call the complainant and arrange an undercover operation to nab the culprit,” he added.He also sought help of the Lieutenant Governor for back up if the helpline gets flooded with calls.
“Tough the anti-corruption department has pulled up its socks for action against errant officials, we have also requested the LG for further assistance. The LG has assured that the Delhi Police teams will be ready on standby for any assistance in case we get a number of complains,” he said.
Kejriwal assured that police officials will also fall under the jurisdiction of the anti corruption department and the complainant have to follow the same procedure.
“No one will be spared. If anyone complains against any police official, the same procedure will be followed and the anti-corruption officials will handle the case,” he said.
Safety of whistle blower
Safety of the whistle blower, however, remained a matter of concern. The chief minister assured to provide as much security as possible to the whistle blower, however, limited the government’s responsibility in lack of any strong whistle blower law.“We will try to provide as much security as we can and whatever available in the system, to the whistle blower, but it still remains a matter of concern as there are no stringent laws for their protection,” he said.
Asked about the provisions of action against touts, Kejriwal said he has appointed former additional commissioner of anti corruption bureau N Dilip Kumar as an advisor for this.
2nd January 2014
The government is likely to allow foreign direct investment in high-speed trains and other projects including development of rail lines between project sites and existing network.
“The commerce and industry ministry has sent the Cabinet note on the matter and a decision is likely to be taken this month only,” a government official said.
Besides, proposing 100 per cent FDI through automatic route in the cash-starved railway sector, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has also proposed to de-license and de-reserve few areas of the sector.
However, FDI will not be allowed in train operations and safety.At present, there is a complete ban on any kind of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the railways sector except mass rapid transport systems.
According to the proposal, foreign investment would also be allowed in “sub-urban corridor, high-speed train systems and dedicated freight line projects implemented in PPP mode ” the official said.It has also suggested widening the definition of ‘infrastructure’ by including railway line and railway sidings.
22nd December 2013
Good governance mandatory for
robust growth, says Pilot
Stressing on the importance of good governance for robust growth, Union Minister Sachin Pilot on Saturday said confidence of domestic investors should be maintained before wooing foreign investors.
The Corporate Affairs Minister emphasized that good governance has a direct impact on the economy as it boosts market sentiment.“We often talk about foreign investments… I for one believe that the first and primarily what we should do is to be keep the confidence of domestic investors,” he said.
“There are aberrations, there are perception correction that needs to be done,” Pilot said, adding that he refused to believe that India is not going to become a front ranking nation.
“India growth story has certainly slacked off in the last year or two but growth is coming… To make sure that is more targeted, the government I think has tried to make all it could despite the negativity in large economies,” he said.
20th December 2013
Government To Form India
Inclusive Innovation Fund
The government Wednesday said that it will set-up a dedicated fund, called the India Inclusive Innovation Fund, for promoting grassroot innovations coupled with social and economic returns.
“The India Inclusive Innovation Fund would back enterprises developing innovative solutions primarily for citizens who lie in the lower half of India’s economic pyramid, with limited physical and institutional access to basic services,” Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises K.H.Muniyappa said in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday.
According to the minister, the minimum total corpus of this fund is proposed to be of 500 crore, while maximum size is slated to be of 5,000 crore with an initial government contribution of about 100 crore.Earlier, the union cabinet had given its approval for setting up of the fund.
19th December 2013
Indian Parliament Passes Anti-
The Rajya Sabha passed the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, which provides for creation of an anti-corruption ombudsman.
The most prominent of the group of anti-graft bills on the anvil, the Lokpal bill establishes a Lokpal at the central level and asks states to establish Lokayuktas in a year’s time from the date of notification of the law. The format of the Lokayukta will be left to the state assemblies to decide.
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha at the fag end of the winter session of 2011, but not by the Rajya Sabha, where it was debated but the house was adjourned before voting on it.A select committee of the Rajya Sabha suggested changes in the bill which were incorporated and approved by the union cabinet.
Now the bill will again have to be sent to the Lok Sabha for approval of the changes.
Concluding the debate on the bill, Law Minister Kapil Sibal called it a historic moment, but stressed that corruption could not be removed by the Lokpal alone.
“Law alone will not lead to elimination of corruption. Law will help deal with those who are corrupt, but it will not deal with the impetus to be corrupt. It will just be a deterrent,” he said.
17th December 2013
Tripura chief minister enjoys
‘poorest CM’ tag
For Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, the tag of being the “poorest chief minister in India” comes not a bit embarrassing, but rather he is appreciative of it.
“I enjoy reading these reports that describe my economic status. When people talk about this, I really enjoy,” Sarkar told PTI.
Sarkar’s personal property, movable and immovable, is valued at less than Rs 2.5 lakh – an amount woefully shy of the multi-crore rupees worth of property some of the country’s chief minister possess.
His bank balance stood at just Rs 9,720, as per the affidavit.Asked how he is leading such a clean and austere life at a time when corruption has become almost the order of the day among politicians, Sarkar said, “The credit of all this goes to my party. The party has imbibed this culture in me.”
The CPI(M) politburo member said, “If I do not maintain that, then it will be an erosion inside me and the fall will start.”Sarkar is the longest serving Chief Minister of Tripura. He took over the reins of power in the tiny landlocked Northeastern state hemmed in by Bangladesh in 1998.
Asked what was the secret of his popularity is in the state, Sarkar said, “We do not keep any secret from the people – that is our secret. We are transparent.” “We do not make any promise which we cannot fulfil. We make only those promises which we can fulfil. If we try to fulfil people’s expectations, they will obviously then elect us.”
According to the affidavit, the 64-year-old politician inherited a house measuring just 432 square feet with a tin-shed structure from his mother Anjali Sarkar.
Its present market value is just Rs 2,20,000.However, his wife Panchali Bhattacharya, who is a retired officer of the central government, has a fixed deposit of Rs 23,58,380, mainly her retirement benefits. She also possesses 20 gm of gold, the present market value of which is Rs 72,000. She has Rs 22,015 cash in hand.
The couple do not have any movable property and the total value of immovable property and cash stood at Rs 24,52,395.Like other party members, Sarkar donates his full salary and subsidiary allowances to the party and instead the party pays him Rs 5,000 per month as subsistence allowance.
During the filing of the affidavit, the chief minister’s monthly salary was Rs 9,200 which, perhaps, was the lowest in the country.
17th December 2013
Hazare thanks Rahul for Lokpal commitment; fast enters 8th day
Anna Hazare has thanked Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi for his “commitment” to the passage of the Lokpal Bill in Parliament, while demanding inclusion of recommendations of the select committee in the bill.
“The country awaits a strong Lokpal,” Hazare said in the letter to Rahul, dated December 15 and released to media today.”I welcome your commitment to get the Bill passed in Parliament. Please ensure that the points approved by the select committee are also incorporated in the bill,” Hazare, whose indefinite fast for passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill entered the eighth day today, said.
Kiran Bedi, former IPS officer and a key member of erstwhile Team Anna, said, “Anna has sent a letter of gratitude to Congress and BJP, that is to Rahul Gandhi and Arun Jaitley for recognising the urgency of passing the Lokpal Bill.”
Meanwhile, Hazare’s aide Suresh Pathare told PTI today that the Gandhian’s condition has deteriorated. “Anna has lost a lot of weight since the fast began on December 10,” he said.While the veteran anti-corruption crusader praised the amended draft Lokpal bill presented in the Rajya Sabha, his one time protege Arvind Kejriwal dismissed it as “Jokepal”.
Hazare said, “I accept it completely. If this Bill is passed, I will end my fast. The Bill will help the poor people of this country.”Kejriwal has expressed his opposition to the Bill and Hazare’s acceptance. “I’m really surprised. How can Anna accept sarkari Lokpal Bill? Sarkari Lokpal is a ‘Jokepal’. Who is misguiding him ?,” he asked.
Hazare has requested the Samajwadi Party to extend support to the Bill. “I am confident that all the parties will support it and it will be passed,” he said.
21st November 2013
PSUs need more autonomy, freedom
from bureaucratic control: PM
Pitching for public sector enterprises being made more competitive, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the state-run companies need to be given greater functional autonomy, be freed from bureaucratic control and not shielded from private sector competition.
“Going forward, our governments will have to increasingly adopt competition-neutral policies… Competitive neutrality requires that the government not use its legislative and fiscal powers to give undue advantage to its own businesses over the private sector,” Singh said.
Speaking at the BRICS International Competition Conference here, Singh said “solution lies in giving public sector firms greater functional autonomy and freeing them from bureaucratic control and not in tolerating a slip in their competitiveness and then shielding them from competition”.
Stating that the state-owned companies or PSEs (Public Sector Enterprises) may have long enjoyed captive markets, he said the government’s ownership in such entities does not mean that these enterprises should be shielded from competition.
“There is an increasing need to recognise the complimentarities between competition law enforcement and liberalisation of markets for procurement,” Singh said.
Emphasising that public procurement forms a substantial slice of state spending, the Prime Minister said competitive procurement markets can help save valuable fiscal resources.
The Prime Minister said the crucial issue is exposure of public sector companies to competition.”The government may own a public sector firm and exercise the normal rights for ownership.
This does not mean it should shelter the firm from competition as well,” Singh said.
12th November 2013
12TH OCTOBER 2013
Ordinance to regularize more illegal structures
The State Cabinet on Friday gave its nod to put off the cutoff date for regularising unauthorised urban constructions under the Akrama -Sakrama scheme, by promulgating an ordinance.
Briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said the day the Governor signs the ordinance would be the new cutoff date for regularising buildings built in violation of by-laws. The old cutoff date was December 3, 2009.
Governor H R Bhardwaj had only recently given his assent to the Karnataka Town and Country Planning And Certain Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009 (popularly known as Akrama Sakrama scheme), that seeks to regularise constructions that have violated rules pertaining to the setback area and floor area ratio. However, the legislation covered only illegal buildings constructed before December 3, 2009.
“There were requests from the public that we extend the date (to include illegal constructions post Dec 3, 2009). We will promulgate an ordinance to facilitate this,” Jayachandra said and added that the time frame for receiving applications would be finalised while framing the rules of the scheme.
According to existing rules, up to 25 per cent violation by residential buildings will attract a penalty of six per cent of the guidance value of the property and eight per cent penalty for violations between 25 and 50 per cent. For non-residential buildings, regularisation charges will be 20 per cent of the guidance value for less than 12.5 per cent violation and 35 per cent for violations up to 25 per cent.
Jayachandra did not indicate when the government proposed to send the ordinance to the Governor.
10th September 2013
One person companies to eliminate middlemen
Small entrepreneurs can now set up ‘one person companies’ to directly access target markets rather than being forced to share their profits with middlemen, Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot has said.
With the new Companies Act, 2013 coming into force, the ‘one person company (OPC)’ has been introduced for the first time in India, which would allow a firm to be registered with just one shareholder and limited regulatory costs and other requirements.
This would provide tremendous opportunities for millions of people, including those working in areas like handloom, handicrafts and pottery, Pilot said.
“They are working as artisans and weavers on their own, so they don’t have the legal entity as a company.”But the OPC would help them do business as an enterprise and give them an opportunity to start their own ventures with a formal business structure,” Pilot told PTI.
Prior to the new Companies Act coming into effect, at least two shareholders were required to start a company.The minister said: “One person company (concept) is quite revolutionary… This will give the individual entrepreneurs all the benefits of a company, which means they will get credit, bank loans, access to market, limited liability, and legal protection available to the companies.
“…The amount of compliance by one person company will also be much less in terms of filing returns, balance sheets, audit etc. “Also, rather than the middlemen conjuring profits,the one person company will have direct access to the market and the wholesale retailers.”
The minister said that the new concept would also boost the confidence of small entrepreneurs.
“It is a new concept and has happened for the first time in India. It is the small towns and small business areas, where this concept needs to be spread,” he added.
For ‘one person company’, the minimum initial capital requirement is expected to be less than Rs 1 lakh but the finer operational details would be clear once the rules for the new Companies Act are framed.
This new concept is expected to benefit people who are into self employment and many small scale sectors.
Pilot also asserted that the Ministry would try to keep certain checks and balances to ensure that such companies are not misused.
In the case of a ‘one person company’, the financial statements – duly adopted by the member – along with all the related and required documents should be filed with the government within 180 days the end of a financial year.
As per the Act, such companies “may not include the cash flow statement”.
Parliament passes Land Bill
5th september 2013
The Parliament on Wednesday passed the long-awaited legislation on land acquisition that seeks to change the antiquated legal framework for acquiring land and guarantee better compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement benefits to people affected by acquisitions.
The bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha with four official amendments, which was suggested by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan (BJP) and accepted by the Congress.
The amendments, said union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, were intended to ensure there was no negative effect of the new legislation on irrigation projects.
The ruling coalition hopes the two bills will salvage its prospect in the 2014 Parliamentary election.With the bill passed by Houses, it will now be sent for Presidential ascent after which it will become a law.
Summing up the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Ramesh said the legislation was not linked to 2014 election as it was in the works for seven years. Rather it is a necessary legislation as the basic structure of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 is wrong. “We have tried to maintain a balance between urbanisation and industrialisation on one hand and farmer’s rights and welfare,” he said.
The legislation which will replace the 1894 act, proposes payment of compensation up to four times the market value of the land being acquired in rural areas and two times the market value in urban areas. Even the people whose livelihood was dependent on the land would also be compensated.
The new law makes it mandatory to obtain prior consents of at least 70 per cent of land owners in case of acquisitions for public-private-partnership projects and of 80 per cent in case of private projects.
30th Aug 2013
Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and
Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill in India was a bill passed that was passed on August 29, 2013. As per the bill the much-awaited land acquisition and rehabilitation bill that aims to provide fair compensation to those whose land is taken away, brings transparency to the process of acquisition of land to set up factories or buildings and assures rehabilitation of those affected. This legislation has been eagerly sought by both industry and those who live off the land.Out of the 235 members who voted on the bill, 216 backed it while 19 voted against it. The bill aims to replace a nearly 120-year-old law enacted during British rule in 1894.
The bill establishes meaningful regulations for land acquisition as a part of India’s massive industrialisation drive driven by public-private partnership. The bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in India on 7 September 2011. The bill will be central legislation in India for the rehabilitation and resettlement of families affected by land acquisitions.
The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, 2011 Bill is also known as LARR Bill 2011 and LARR 2011. The Bill has 107 clauses. It was in public domain and India’s parliament for review, as Bill number 77 of 2011.
28th Aug 2013
Officials to need government nod for going abroad
Lawmakers and government employees going abroad and accepting foreign hospitality, now have to take prior permission of the government. The Union Home Ministry has now come up with an online application for this purpose.
For MLAs and MPs, applying online is optional as they can send their written applications but for government employees it will be mandatory from October. Until September, the government officials can send applications either online or as hard copies.
Home Secretary Anil Goswami has sent a letter to all state chief secretaries in this regard recently, outlining the new process. According to Goswami’s letter, no MP, MLA, judge, political party leader and government employee can accept foreign hospitality while visiting destinations abroad.
The ministry decided that applications with respect to government servants and employees of corporations, or any other body owned or controlled by the government, would only be accepted online from October.
The applicant has to submit a scanned copy of the invite from the host country or organisation and the administrative clearance from the ministry or government department concerned.
For MPs, MLAs, leaders and judges, both options can be utilized for seeking permission but Goswami’s letter indicated that a change is probable at a later stage.
Goswami’s letter stated, “Applications in respect of members of legislature or office bearers of political parties or judges may be submitted online as per procedure. Both forms of submission will be continue to be accepted for the time being.”
A controversy had erupted two years ago when the government tried to regulate the private foreign travels of judges. Union ministers have to take prior approval of the prime minister when they visit foreign countries for official or private reasons.
25th Aug 2013
LS PASSES BULL TO PROVIDE BENEFITS TO FORMER GOVERNORS:
The Lok Sabha on Saturday passed a bill to provide secretarial staff and other benefits to former governors, even as several MPs questioned the rationale of continuing with the gubernatorial post.
The Governors (Emoluments, Allowances and Privileges) Amendment Bill, 2012, seeks to provide pension and other post-retirement benefits to ex-governors, amending the Governors (Emoluments, Allowances and Privileges) Act, 1982. The bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 10, also provides ex-governors with a personal assistant.
Moving the bill for consideration on Saturday, Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh said the issue of making secretarial assistance available to ex-governors had been raised at various levels, including the governors conference.
He said an approximate amount of Rs 1.95 crore per annum will have to be spent onimplementing the provisions of the bill.
Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav said he was not in favour of continuing with the post of the governor. He asked the government to inform the House about the expenditures made by Raj Bhavans across the country. He, however, supported the bill.
Tathagata Satpathy of the Biju Janata Dal termed the post of the governor as “colonial legacy”.
“The utility of governors per se has been challenged, has been questioned over a long period of time and it has been questioned even today. Most governors behave as the subedars of the Mughal times,” he said.
Earlier, initiating the debate on the bill, Kirti Azad of the BJP demanded that the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, Punchhi Commission and Venkatachalliah Committee should be implemented to prevent misuse of the post for political purposes to target the state governments.
13th Aug 2013
Political parties out of RTI ambit..
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on Monday tabled the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013, in the Lok Sabha apparently to undo a two-month-old Central Information Commission (CIC) order enforcing transparency in the functioning of political parties.
The bill pointed out: “Declaring a political party a public authority under the RTI Act would hamper its smooth internal working. Further, political rivals may misuse the provisions of the RTI Act, thereby adversely affecting the functioning of political parties.”
The bill, once passed by Parliament, will come into effect retrospectively, for it seeks to insulate the political parties from any RTI application filed since June 3—the day the the CIC opened parties to public scrutiny—to cull out information not in public domain.
A full bench of the CIC had brought political parties under the ambit of the RTI Act, recognising them as public bodies given financial benefits, like the large pieces of land allocated to them by the government at throwaway prices, and the tax exemptions enjoyed by them.
The amendment to the Section 2 of the Act clarifies: “The expression ‘authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted’ by any law made by Parliament shall not include any association or body of individuals registered or recognised as political party under the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951.”
NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative coordinator Venkatesh Nayak announced that “many activists and NGOs working for the RTI Act will move court if Parliament gives its nod to the proposed amendments.”
10th August 2013
Politicos woo RWA’s for votes
Resident welfare associations (RWAs) seem to have emerged as the flavour of this pre-election season in the Capital, with political parties across the spectrum wooing what they consider their ticket to the crucial middle-class backing in the upcoming assembly polls.
Unlike in the past, when politicians used to peddle their promises mainly in the jhuggijhopri clusters or teeming slums, this time they appear to be focusing as much on the notoriously reluctant voters in the middle-class and uppermiddle-class localities through the local RWAs. So while Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announced in June a sum of Rs 1 lakh for urgent works per RWA, her rival, BJP’s state president Vijay Goelhas been organising meetings with these associations across the city.
Even the new entrant, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), appears keen to reach out to voters through RWAs. “This is where we get our political intelligence from,” says Goel, referring to RWAs.
“They are our route to tell people about our alternative governance model.” Tapping voters through RWAs is even more important for Opposition parties because they cannot offer largesse like the ruling party, says a BJP leader who does not wish to be named. Congress MLA Ramakant Goswami, who represents the Rajendra Nagar constituency, says RWAs are a great way to reach out to middle-class voters.
Source: Excerpts from ET
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