A wide range of discretionary powers enjoyed by ministers at the Centre are being abolished, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee informed here on Saturday.
Mr. Mukherjee, who chaired a Group of Ministers (GoM) on dealing with corruption, said that the group had submitted its recommendations which were now being processed for implementation by the Ministry of Law and Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
The discretionary powers of ministers that have been given up include discretionary funds at the hands some ministries like the Social Welfare Ministry, he said in an interview to PTI.
Discretionary allotment of gas pumps and issue of gas coupons have already been done away with.
However, he clarified that the quota of Government of India in medical seats for students from countries like Bhutan and Nepal and appointments of non-official directors of banks did not fall under the discretionary powers of ministers but collective decision making of the government through the Appointments Committee of Cabinet.
In a radical blueprint to tackle corruption, he said court cases and departmental proceedings against corrupt public servants would be fast tracked, and cases for sanction of their prosecution will be decided within three months.
Apart from fast tracking of cases against corrupt public servants, GoM has recommended expediting of the setting up of 71 Special CBI Courts which have already been sanctioned. Ten courts are already operational.
Review of old cases pending for more than 10 years under the Prevention of Corruption Act for speedy disposal and strengthening of vigilance administration of central ministries and departments, especially the vigilance wing of the DoPT, have also been recommended.
However, the GoM decided against amending Article 311 of the Constitution provides for summary proceedings in grave cases of grave misdemeanour or blatant corruption by public servants.
The GoM also dealt with the issue of introduction of an open and competitive system of exploiting natural resources and to ensure full transparency in pubic procurement and contracts.
The services of Former Secretaries to the government Ashok Chawla and DoPT Vinod Dhall were utilised for drafting recommendations after examination of public procurement, standards and public procurement policy.
A Committee of Secretaries is likely to make recommendations in this regard by the middle of August, Mukherjee said.
The GoM also discussed the issue of Lokpal on which a bill has been cleared by the Union Cabinet now now for introduction in Parliament during the monsoon session.