Saturday, May 1, 2010

Let Ombudsmen deal with corruption In all Govt. schemes: Dr. JP

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan has urged Chief Minister K. Rosaiah to widen and deepen the ombudsmen mechanism to cover any instances of corruption and irregularities in all schemes at the local government level.

It may be recalled that the State Government in its order dated April 21 proposed appointment of ombudsmen at the district level to go into NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) irregularities.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, Dr. JP pointed out that since around Rs.2000 crore a year is being spent directly at the district level under various Government schemes, ombudsmen powers must not be limited only to NREGS implementation but enlarged to cover any instances of corruption and irregularities in all schemes at the local government level.

Lok Satta Party spokespersons Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao, Mr. V. Laxman Balaji, Mr. Eeda Chennaiah released Dr. JP’s letter at a media conference here today.

Dr. JP pointed out in his letter that the State Government order limits ombudsmen’s powers to inquire only into irregularities thrown up by NREGS social audit. “The scope of their powers must be expanded to enable them to take up and act upon complaints of corruption and maladministration against both elected members and officials at the local government level. This would enable them to lodge or take up complaints (suo motu) against erring parties, conduct investigations, initiate proceedings on any related grievance, and award and implement redressal, disciplinary and punitive actions against erring parties. Ombudsmen must be made autonomous and powerful to ensure that guilty elected public representatives and local government officials are removed from service and duly punished. “

Dr. JP suggested that persons of the rank of district judge and not first class judicial magistrate should be selected as district-level ombudsmen. Since the proposed sitting fee of Rs.500 a day for an ombudsman is too low, it would not attract talent. Since the ombudsmen will be monitoring and investigating complaints relating to all government schemes at district and sub-district levels, they should enjoy the status, rank, salary, allowances and privileges of a sitting judge.

Dr. JP called for eliminating the multiplicity of agencies dealing with wrongdoings of public servants and integrating the functional jurisdiction of various such agencies. To this extent, the district-level ombudsmen mechanism should be integrated at the State level, under an appropriate, independent framework.

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