• In order to promote transparency and accountability in administration, the Indian Parliament enacted the Right to Information Act which came into force on 12 October 2005. It empowers citizens to seek information from a Public Authority, thus making the Government and its functionaries more accountable and responsible.
• The act sets up a practical regime for citizens to access information available with public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in their working.
Central Information Commission
• When established? On 12-10-2005 under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
• Headquarter – New Delhi
• Composition – 1 Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and not more than 10 Information Commissioners (IC) who are appointed by the President.
• Powers and Functions –
a) Receive and inquire into complaints from any person relating to access to information under the control of public authorities and to decide appeals against the decisions of designated appellate officers.
b) Impose penalties on erring Central Public Information Officers and recommend disciplinary action against those who have, without any reasonable cause, denied access to information under the provisions of the Act or deprived a citizen of right to access information with public authorities in a malafide manner.
c) To require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other damage suffered.
d) The decision of the Commission on an appeal is binding and is not subject to further appeal in a court of law.
e) Recommend public authorities the steps which ought to be taken for promoting conformity with the provisions of the Act.
f) While inquiring into a complaint the CIC has the same powers as are vested in a civil court trying a suit like summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons and compelling them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce documents or things; requiring the discovery and inspection of documents; receiving evidence on affidavit; requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office; issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents etc.
g) The Commission may, during the inquiry into any complaint, examine any record under the control of the public authority, and no such record may be withheld from it on any grounds.
State Information Commission
• When established? The State Information Commission is constituted by the State Government through a Gazette notification.
• Composition – A State Chief Information Commissioner and not more than Ten State Information Commissioners appointed by the Governor.
• Most of the powers & functions of the State Information Commission are similar to that of its counterpart at the national level.
Consumer Dispute Redressal Agencies
• Consumer Forums have been established across country at the different levels with view to provide speedy, less expensive and simple, hassle-free dispute redressal to the consumers.
• The Consumer Protection Act provides three tier dispute redressal agencies namely the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission & the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum. All these agencies are quasi-judicial in terms of nature and power.
National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission
• When established? Set up in 1988 under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986
• Headquarter – New Delhi
• Composition –
a) A President who is or has been the judge of Supreme Court
b) Four other members including one woman member & not more than fifty percent of the members should be from judicial background
• Jurisdiction of National Commission has been categorized in five parts i.e. pecuniary, territorial, appellate, revisional and review of jurisdiction.
• Powers of the National Commission
a) It has some powers of civil court, criminal court
b) To make summary judgment
c) Exercise of administrative control over all the State Commissions by calling for periodical returns regarding the institution, disposal and pendency of cases
d) Power to issue instructions regarding adoption of uniform procedure in the hearing of the matters, prior service of copies of documents produced by one party to the opposite parties, oversee the functioning of the District Forums to ensure that the objects and purposes of the Act are best served, without interfering with their quasi-judicial freedom.
• Any person aggrieved by an order of the National Commission may prefer an Appeal against such order to the Supreme Court within a period of 30 days.
State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission
• When established? Set up under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986
• Composition –
a) A President who is or has been the judge of High Court
b) Two other members including a woman member & not more than fifty percent of the members should be from judicial background
• Jurisdiction of National Commission has been categorized into pecuniary, territorial, appellate, and revisional jurisdiction
• Most of the powers & functions of the State Commission are similar to that of its counterpart at the national level.
District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum
• When established? Set up under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986
• Composition –
a) A President who is or has been the judge of District Court
b) Two other members including a woman member
• Jurisdiction of District Forum has been categorized into pecuniary, territorial, and appellate jurisdiction
• Most of the powers & functions of the District Forum are similar to that of its counterpart at the national & state level.
CBI derives power to investigate from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. Later on, the Government of India set up Central Bureau of Investigation by a resolution dated 1st April, 1963. Hence, CBI is not a statutory body as it was created by executive resolution.
The CBI is subject to three ministries of the Government of India and two Constitutional bodies-
– Ministry of Home Affairs: Cadre Clearance
– DoPT: Administration, Budget and Induction of non IPS officers
– Union Public Service Commission: Officers of and above the rank of Deputy SP
– Law and Justice Ministry: Public prosecutors
– Central Vigilance Commission: Anti-corruption cases.
• Special Cells were created to take up investigations in important & sensational cases of conventional nature.
• Over a period of time, some of the work originally allotted to the CBI was transferred to other organizations. Part of the work relating to Crime Records and Statistics Division was transferred to NCRB and that relating to Research Division was transferred to BPR&D.
• In the last 65 years, the organization has evolved from an anti corruption agency to a multi faceted, multi disciplinary central police law enforcement agency.
• Director, CBI as Inspector General of Police, Delhi Special Police Establishment, is responsible for the administration of the organization. With enactment of CVC Act, 2003, the Superintendence of Delhi Special Police Establishment vests with the Central Government except investigations of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in which, the superintendence vests with the Central Vigilance Commission.
• CBI has been provided security of two year tenure in CBI by the CVC Act, 2003. The CVC Act also provides mechanism for selection of Director, CBI and other officers of the rank of SP and above in CBI.
At Present CBI has following divisions:
– Anti Corruption Division
– Economic Offences Division
– Special Crimes Division
– Directorate of Prosecution
– Administration Division
– Policy & Coordination Division
Central Forensic Science Laboratory
• Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
During the early stages of World War-II, the then Government of India realized that the enormously expanded expenditure for purposes connected with the war had brought about a situation in which unscrupulous and antisocial persons, both officials and non-officials, were enriching themselves dishonestly at the cost of the public and the Government. It was felt that the Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies, which functioned under the State Governments, were not adequate to cope with the situation. It was under these circumstances, that the setting up of a separate organization to investigate offences connected with these transactions became a dire necessity. Consequently, the organization known as the Special Police Establishment (S.P.E.) was created under a Deputy Inspector- General of Police by the Government of India, in 1941, by an executive order.
The functions of the S.P.E. were to investigate cases of bribery and corruption in transactions with which the War and Supply Department of the Government of India was concerned.
Even after the end of the War, the need for a Central Government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption by Central Government employees was felt. This was subsequently replaced by the Delhi Special Police Establishment 1946. This Act transferred the superintendence of the SPE to the Home Department and its functions were enlarged to cover all departments of the Govt. of India. The jurisdiction of the SPE extended to all the Union Territories and could be extended also to the States with the consent of the State Government concerned.
The DSPE renamed as Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 1963. Initially the offences that were notified by the Central Government related only to corruption by Central Govt. servants. In due course, with the setting up of a large number of public sector undertakings, the employees of these undertakings were also brought under CBI purview. Similarly, with the nationalization of the banks in 1969, the Public Sector Banks and their employees also came within the ambit of the CBI.
As the CBI, over the years, established a reputation for impartiality and competence, demands were made on it to take up investigation of more cases of conventional crime such as murder, kidnapping, terrorist crime, etc. Apart from this, even the Supreme Court and the various High Courts of the country also started entrusting such cases for investigation to the CBI on petitions filed by aggrieved parties.
It was therefore decided in 1987 to constitute two investigation divisions in the CBI, namely, Anti-Corruption Division and Special Crimes Division, the latter dealing with cases of conventional crime, besides economic offences.
Even though the CBI is empowered to investigate all offences notified by the Central Government under Section 3 of the DSPE Act, 1946, it does not take up all such cases keeping in view its limited resources and its powers being concurrent and coextensive with those of the State Police Forces, which if exercised without coordination with the State Police, might lead to conflict and duplication of efforts. To avoid such duplication, an administrative arrangement has been arrived at by CBI with the State Police Forces, according to which:
a) The cases, which are substantially and essentially against Central Government employees or concerning affairs of the Central Government, shall be investigated by CBI although certain employees of the State Government may also be involved. The State Police or State Anti-Corruption Bureau will render necessary assistance to the CBI, during investigation and prosecution of such cases.
b) The cases, which are essentially and substantially against State Government employees or are in respect of matters concerning the State Government, shall be investigated by the State Police irrespective of the fact that certain employees of the Central Government are also involved as co-accused. CBI will just assist them.
c) Cases relating to the breaches of Central Laws; Big cases of fraud, cheating, embezzlement etc; Cases having interstate and international ramifications CBI will be the sole authority engaged in investigation of cases.
But because of limited resources and need to concentrate on cases having interstate or international ramifications and those involving bribery and corruption CBI is not able to take up all the cases committed by Central Government employees such as ordinary cases of theft, misappropriation and cheating.
• Central Vigilance Commission
In the Transparency International rankings for 2011, India was placed 95th among the 183 countries rated. Corruption flourishes in India because it is perceived to be a low risk, high profit business. In service delivery, there is lack of transparency in rules and procedures, and significant delays in operations or functioning. The lack of transparency provides an opportunity for public servants to mislead citizens who have to transact business with them, and extract bribes. Certainly, the size of India’s parallel economy (or black market), estimated at 40% of GDP, provides fertile ground for corruption to flourish. Equally important, the corrupt face little deterent. There are enormous delays in the prosecution of cases in courts. What is worse, the conviction rate is hardly 6% in criminal cases.
Thus to propagate the idea of zero tolerance for corruption the Central Vigilance Commission was set up by the Government in February, 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance.
CVC is conceived to be the apex vigilance institution, free of control from any executive authority, monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government and advising various authorities in Central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.
CVC is a multi member body consisting of a central Vigilance Commissioner and not more than two vigilance commissioners. They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal on the recommendation of a three member committee consisting of the Prime Minister as its head, the Union minister of home affairs and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
The jurisdiction of CVC extends to members of All india Services; officers of scale V and above in public sector banks; officers in D Grade in RBI, NABARD and SIDBI, Managers in Insurance companies etc.
Some initiatives taken by the CVC to combat corruption
a) Project Vigeye
CVC has launched the Project Vigeye which is a citizen-centric initiative, wherein citizens join hands with the Central Vigilance Commission in fighting corruption in India.
Project Vigeye is the platform through which vigilance information flows freely through common public, the government agencies and the vigilance commission, making it possible to achieve a step jump in improving the corruption index of the nation.
• Citizens have multiple channels to air their grievances and complaints to CVC
– Through their mobile phones: by downloading the mobile application from the CVC website. The complaints can be better articulated with additional data like audio/ video/ photo evidence from their mobiles directly.
– Through the internet: by filling up the complaint form online they can attach audio/video/photo evidence.
– Through telephone: help line have been setup
• The entire complaint processing is done online, in digital form, enabling fast and accurate processing of complaints.
• The concerned CVO will interact with the complainant directly over phone/email or in person, as the case may be, to take it forward.
• Status of the complaint is communicated back to the complainant – the communication loop becomes complete.
Lokpal and Lokayukta
The ‘Lokpal’ is the central governing body that has jurisdiction over all members of parliament and central government employees in case of corruption. Whereas, the ‘Lokayukta’ is similar to the Lokpal, but functions on a state level. Scope of the ‘Lokpal’ is based on a national government level basis and the scope of the ‘Lokayukta’ relied on a state level.
The main function is to address complaints of corruption, to make inquiries, investigations, and to conduct trials for the case on respective state and central government with having responsibility to help in curbing the corruption in the central and state government.
Salient features of the Act
1. The Lokpal to consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight Members, of which fifty percent shall be judicial Members. Fifty per cent of members of Lokpal shall be from amongst SC, ST, OBCs, Minorities and Women.
2. The selection of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal shall be through a Selection Committee consisting of –
a) Prime Minister;
b) Speaker of Lok Sabha;
c) Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha;
d) Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court Judge nominated by CJI;
e) An eminent jurist to be nominated by the President of India
3. A Search Committee will assist the Selection Committee in the process of selection. Fifty per cent of members of the Search Committee shall also be from amongst SC, ST, OBCs, Minorities and Women.
4. Lokpal’s jurisdiction will cover all categories of public servants including Group ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ & ‘D’ officers and employees of Government. On complaints referred to CVC by Lokpal, CVC will send its report of Preliminary enquiry in respect of Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ officers back to Lokpal for further decision. With respect to Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ employees, CVC will proceed further in exercise of its own powers under the CVC Act subject to reporting and review by Lokpal.
5. All entities receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of Rs. 10 lakhs per year are brought under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
6. Lokpal will have power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal.
7. A high powered Committee chaired by the Prime Minister will recommend selection of the Director, CBI.
8. Attachment and confiscation of property of public servants acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.
The Lokpal’s inquiry wing is required to inquire into complaints within 60 days of their reference. On considering an inquiry report the Lokpal shall-
(i) order an investigation; (ii) initiate departmental proceedings; or (iii) close the case and proceed against the complainant for making a false and frivolous complaint. The investigation shall be completed within 6 months. The Lokpal may initiate prosecution through its Prosecution Wing before the Special Court set up to adjudicate cases. The trial shall be completed within a maximum of two years.
The recent amendment has amended Section 44.
a) Now the every public servantshall make declaration of their assets and liabilities in the form and manner as prescribed by government. It has abolished the previous 30 days timeline.
b) Gives extension of the time given to public servants and trustees and board members of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to declare their assets and those of their spouses.
1) Press Council of India
• When established? On 4 July 1966 as an autonomous, statutory, quasi-judicial body.
• Headquarter – New Delhi
• Composition – A Chairman (by convention a retired judge of the Supreme Court), 28 other members of whom 20 represent the press and nominated by the press organizations/news agencies, five members nominated from the two Houses of Parliament and three represent cultural, literary and legal fields as nominees of the Sahitya Academy, University Grants Commission and the Bar Council of India
• Functions of the PCI –
a) to help newspapers to maintain their independence
b) to build up a code of conduct for newspapers and journalists
c) to ensure maintenance of high standards of public taste
d) to encourage a sense of responsibility and public service in the journalism
e) to promote common services for the supply and dissemination of news to newspapers
f) to provide facilities for proper education and training in journalism
• Powers of the PCI –
a) Power to Censure on receipt of a complaint when a newspaper or news agency has offended against the standards of journalistic ethics, public taste, professional conduct. The decision of the Council shall be final and shall not be questioned in any court of law.
b) The Council shall have the powers vested in a civil court namely summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons and examining them on oath, requiring the discovery and inspection of documents, receiving evidence on affidavits, requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office etc.
c) Every inquiry held by the Council shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code.