Dear Shri Anna Hazare,
This refers to the letter dated 26.5.2012 addressed to the Prime Minister purported to have been signed by you and several others. I have been directed to make the following submissions to the issues raised:
The Government has tabled a strong Lokpal Bill in Parliament which has features that are more progressive than in any Bill tabled before. This Bill has been prepared after extensive discussions with you and your colleagues and all suggestions that were considered to be feasible have been incorporated. This Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha. Government is of the opinion that Parliament has to take a final view on the Bill and the passage of the Bill should be a Parliament-led process. To this end, Government is open to suggestions from all parties. In fact, many suggestions have been accepted by the Government in the course of the discussions on the Bill and two all-party meetings have been held in an effort to build consensus. The Bill has now been referred to a Select Committee which will be open to receive and examine all relevant suggestions.
In addition to the Lokpal Bill, Government has taken a slew of measures, both legislative and executive, to curb and reduce corruption. The Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of International Organisations Bill, the Citizens’ Right to Grievance Redress Bill and the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill have been brought forward. India has also ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption. A comprehensive public procurement law has been approved by the Cabinet. The National Mission for Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms has been set up.
A Group of Ministers set up by the Government to consider measures to tackle corruption has approved a large number of measures as given in the annexure. These are being implemented by the various Ministries and a monitoring mechanism has been set up to track progress.
To fight the menace of black money, the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act and amendment to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act have been passed. A special committee has been set up to examine measures to strengthen laws to curb black money generation. Independent agencies have been commissioned to assess the quantum of black money and make recommendations. New Income Tax Overseas Units have been set up and new Tax Information Exchange Agreements and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements have been signed to contain generation and outflow of illicit funds.
Agencies like CBI, ED, CAG and CBDT continue to function independently as per their mandates. In fact, the term of this Government has been especially marked by zero interference in the functioning of these agencies. CAG has functioned in an unfettered way in conducting audit of various departments.
The Government continues to welcome suggestions from all segments of civil society, including the one represented by you, on measures to bring greater probity in governance and public life. The Government is committed to make all efforts to reduce corruption and bring in greater transparency. The Government is also determined to ensure that baseless and uninformed allegations made against public servants are not allowed to create fear that can lead to paralysis in decision-making and slow down growth and development.
We have noted from your letter that you have previously addressed communications to all the Ministers conveying the allegations made against them for their views.
As regards the allegations made against the Prime Minister, they seem to be based on a leaked draft of the CAG on coal block allocations and on media stories. You have provided no evidence to back up these allegations and you have yourself said that you are not making these allegations. All details of the policy and procedures followed for coal block allocations have been placed in the public domain by the Coal Ministry and can be seen by all by going to the link http://coal.nic.in/welcome.html. All decisions were taken in public interest on the basis of legal provisions and relevant policy in force.
The final report of the CAG has not yet been tabled in Parliament. When it is tabled, the Government will submit detailed responses before the Public Accounts Committee as per Constitutional procedure. It is also understood that the CVC, in exercise of the powers vested in it, has recently directed the CBI to carry out a Preliminary Enquiry on a complaint on coal block allocations filed by an Opposition MP and some others. CBI will carry out the enquiry fairly and independently. Your insinuations and allegations against the CBI are unwarranted and unjustified.
I must regret that your statement that “top most institutions of the country like the Supreme Court, High Court, CAG etc. have leveled these allegations [against the Ministers] from time to time”, is not only vague but unacceptable.
The tone and tenor of your letter and the broad and sweeping nature of the statements made are also unacceptable.
Your demand for the constitution of a Special Investigation Team has been considered, as also the terms of reference suggested by you. Having regard to the fact that the existing legal and statutory framework has adequate and sufficient provisions for addressing the issues raised by you, your demand cannot be acceded to.
The allegation that an understanding has been reached by the Government with Shri Mulayam Singh to hush up ongoing CBI enquiries is baseless and untrue. It is unfair to the Government, Shri Mulayam Singh and the CBI and an insult to the judicial system.
As regards allegations leveled against what you have termed as ‘team Anna’, these too would be subject to due investigation by concerned agencies if and when reports are filed. There is no provision under law to subject anyone to twice the penalty allowed under the relevant law.
Finally, with regard to the special fast track courts suggested by you to deal with cases of allegedly tainted MPs, the matter has been considered but cannot be acceded to since Government and the judiciary both monitor the pendency of cases in various courts.
Key measures approved by the GoM to tackle corruption
> Fast-tracking of all cases of public servants accused of corruption –
· Competent authority to take decision within 3 months on requests from investigating agencies for sanction of prosecution (orders issued since).
· Competent authority to decide within 3 months all requests for granting/denying permission under Section 6(a) of DSPE Act, 1946. The competent authority for officers of the level of JS and above in GoI will be the Minister-in-Charge. (orders issued since).
> Electoral Reforms –
· Ministry of Law & Justice directed to come up with specific proposals for initiating reforms expeditiously. (These are awaiting political consensus).
> Relinquishing discretionary powers enjoyed by Ministers at the Centre-
· DoPT directed to issue a general advisory to all Ministries/Depts. to carry out an exercise for putting in place regulatory parameters for exercise of discretionary powers and putting them in public domain. (instructions since issued by DoPT).
> Introduction of an open and competitive system of exploiting natural resources-
· Most of the recommendations of the Ashok Chawla Committee accepted. DEA directed to monitor the implementation of the same by the respective Ministries/Depts.