Ministers favour fast-tracking cases of corrupt officials

Monday, February 14, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Group of Ministers on (GoM) on corruption met here Monday and is learnt to have favoured fast-tracking cases of corruption against public servants.

Official sources said that the GoM headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also discussed the issue of ending discretionary powers of ministers.

The department of personnel and training had written to all ministries asking them to provide details of discretionary powers enjoyed by the ministers.

It had also sought details of instances where such powers were used by the ministers and senior functionaries of the ministries. Sources said the department has given the details to the GoM.

They said that the meeting discussed the possibility of amending the constitution to provide for summary proceedings in cases of blatant corruption by public officials.

The GoM is also looking into the issues concerning the Lokpal Bill, state funding of parties for elections and formulation of transparent public procurement policy.

The sources said that terms of reference of the GoM are on the lines of the five-point action plan Congress president Sonia Gandhi outlined at the party plenary in December to fight corruption. Among the suggestions made by Gandhi to the party chief ministers was one for giving up discretionary powers.

The GoM includes Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Law and Justice Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Chemicals and Fertiliser Minister M.K. Alagiri, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal and Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The government has been facing charges from the Opposition over a series of scams, including those involving 2G spectrum allocation, Commonwealth Games and Adarsh Housing Society of Mumbai, and is keen to give a message of concerted action to deal with corruption.

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