Listed below are some key Bills pending in Parliament that are expected to address various aspects of corruption in India. These Bills need to be scrutinized carefully by both lawmakers and citizens alike, so as the strengthen them. Citizen groups can engage in a variety of ways to get their views heard, which have been described in the primer on Engaging with Policy Makers. Some of these anti-corruption Bills are listed in the current Winter Session for consideration and passing. These are marked in red below. (The full list of all Bills being considered in the Winter Session can be accessed here.) Each Bill below has been hyperlinked to a page which has the text of the Bill, the report of the Standing Committee, PRS analysis, and other relevant documents, all in one place. Spreading this message to a number of interested people will be a very useful contribution by all those interested in building greater engagement of people with what happens in Parliament.
Date of introduction
|The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 (Listed for passing)||December 22, 2011||Passed by Lok Sabha on 27 Dec 2011. Report of Rajya Sabha Select Committee submitted on November 23, 2012.||It seeks to establish the office of the Lok Pal at the centre and Lokayuktas in states for inquiring into complaints against certain public servants.The Bill once passed shall be applicable to states if they give their consent to its application.|
|The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, 2011 (Listed for passing)||August 26, 2010||Passed by Lok Sabha on December 27, 2011. Pending in Rajya Sabha||It seeks to protect whistleblowers (person making a disclosure related to acts of corruption, misuse of power or criminal offence).Under the Bill any person including a public servant may make such a disclosure to the Central or State Vigilance Commission.The identity of the complainant shall not be disclosed.|
|The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill, 2011||August 18, 2011||Standing Committee submitted its Report on June 26, 2012||The Bill prohibits all persons from entering into benami transactions (property transactions in the name of another person).Any benami property shall be confiscated by the central government.It seeks to replace the existing Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988.|
|The Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill, 2011 (Listed for passing)||March 25, 2011||Standing Committee submitted its Report on March 29, 2012||Indiais a signatory to the UN Convention against corruption. The Bill is necessary for India to ratify the Convention.The Bill makes it an offence to accept or offer a bribe to foreign public officials and officials of public international organizations in order to obtain or retain international business|
|The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011||December 20, 2011||Standing Committee submitted its Report on August 28, 2012||It requires every public authority to publish a citizen charter within six months of commencement of the Act.The charter should detail the goods and services to be provided and the timeline for their delivery.|
|The Electronic Delivery of Services Bill, 2011||December 27, 2011||Standing Committee submitted its Report on August 30, 2012||The Bill requires all public authorities to deliver all public services electronically within a maximum period of eight years.There are two exceptions to this requirement: (a) service which cannot be delivered electronically; and (b) services that the public authorities in consultation with the respective Central and State EDS Commissions decide not to deliver electronically.|
|The Prevention of Money-Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2011 (Listed for passing)||December 27, 2011||Standing Committee submitted its Report on May 9, 2012||The Bill Amends the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.This Bill widens the definition of offences under money laundering to include activities like concealment, acquisition, possession and use of proceeds of crime.It provides for the provisional attachment and confiscation of property (for a maximum period of 180 days).|
|The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010||December 3, 2010||Standing Committee submitted its Report on December 13, 2011||The Bill seeks to establish the National Identification Authority of India to issue unique identification numbers (called ‘Aadhaar’) to residents ofIndia.Every person residing inIndia(regardless of citizenship) is entitled to obtain an Aadhaar number after furnishing the required information.The number shall serve as an identity proof. But not as a citizenship proof.|
|The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010||December 1, 2010||Passed by Lok Sabha on March 29, 2012; Pending in Rajya Sabha||It replaces the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968. It provides for enforceable standards for the conduct of High Court and Supreme Court judges.The Bill requires judges and their spouses and children to declare their assets and liabilities. It also establishes a process for the removal of judges of Supreme Court and High Court|
|The Public Procurement Bill, 2012||May 14, 2012||Standing Committee Report pending||The Bill seeks to regulate and ensure transparency in the procurement process. It applies to procurement processes above Rs 50 lakh.The procuring entity shall adhere to certain standards such as (a) ensuring efficiency and economy; and (b) provide fair and equitable treatment to bidders.|
Sources: Respective Bills, PRS Legislative Research
Tribunals function as a parallel mechanism to the traditional court system. Tribunals were established for two main reasons - allowing for specialised subject knowledge in disputes on technical matters and reducing the burden on the court system. In India, some tribunals are at the level of subordinate courts with appeals lying with the High Court, while some others are at the level of High Courts with appeals lying with the Supreme Court. In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled that Parliament may create an alternative to High Courts provided that they have the same efficacy as the High Courts. For an overview of the tribunal system in India, see our note here.
In April 2021, the central government promulgated an Ordinance, which specified provisions related to the composition of the search-cum-selection committees for the selection of members of 15 Tribunals, and the term of office for members. Further, it empowered the central government to notify qualifications and other terms and conditions of service (such as salaries) for the Chairperson and members of these tribunals. In July 2021, the Supreme Court struck down certain provisions of the Ordinance (such as the provision specifying a four-year term for members) stating that these impinged on the independence of the judiciary from the government. In several earlier judgements, the Supreme Court has laid out guidelines for the composition of Tribunals and service conditions to ensure that these Tribunals have the same level of independence from the Executive as the High Courts they replace.
However, Parliament passed the Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021 in August 2021, which is almost identical to the April Ordinance and includes the provisions which had been struck down. This Act has been challenged in the Supreme Court. For a PRS analysis of the Bill, please see here.
On 16th September 2021, the central government notified The Tribunal (Conditions of Service) Rules, 2021 under the Tribunals Reforms Act, 2021. A couple of the provisions under these Rules may contravene principles laid out by the Supreme Court:
Appointment of the Administrative Member of the Central Administrative Tribunal as the Chairman
In case of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), the Rules specify that a person with at least three years of experience as the Judicial Member or Administrative Member may be appointed as the Chairman. This may violate the principles laid down by the past Supreme Court judgements.
The CAT supplants High Courts. In 1986, the Supreme Court stated that if an administrative tribunal supplants the High Courts, the office of the Chairman of the tribunal should be equated with that of the Chief Justice of the High Court. Therefore, the Chairman of the tribunal must be a current or former High Court Judge. Further, in 2019, the Supreme Court stated – “the knowledge, training, and experience of members or presiding officers of a tribunal must mirror, as far as possible, that of the Court it seeks to substitute”.
The Administrative Member of the CAT may be a person who has been an Additional Secretary to the central government or a central government officer with pay at least that of the Additional Secretary. Hence, the Administrative Member may not have the required judicial experience for appointment as the Chairman of CAT.
Leave Sanctioning Authority
The Rules specify that the central government will be the leave sanctioning authority for the Chairperson of tribunals, and Members (in case of absence of the Chairperson). In 2014, the Supreme Court specified that the central government (Executive) should not have any administrative involvement with the members of the tribunal as it may influence the independence and fairness of the tribunal members. In addition, it had observed that the Executive may be a litigant party and its involvement in administrative matters of tribunals may influence the fairness of the adjudication process. In judgements in 1997 and 2014, the Supreme Court recommended that the administration of all Tribunals should be under a nodal ministry such as the Law Ministry, and not the respective administrative ministry. In 2020, it recommended setting up of a National Tribunals Commission to supervise appointments and administration of Tribunals. The Rules are not in consonance with these recommendations.