The government plans to present a Bill to establish a Lok Pal, the ombudsman to check graft and misuse of office, when Parliament reconvenes next month.
V S Narayanasamy, minister for personnel and public grievances, said this to journalists here today. He also defended the Central Bureau of Investigation's raid on DMK leader M K Stalin's house last week, while explaining it was an internal decision of the agency.
Speaking at the National Editors Conference, he denied reports of being rapped by Congress President Sonia Gandhi for the raid. He said it was one of 19 locations raided as part of an investigation into a tax evasion case concerning 33 imported cars.
"How could I call up CBI and stop them from raiding Stalin alone, when 17 cars were recovered from the 19 raids? Then, you would call that interference," he said.
Accusing the media of creating a perception of corruption in society, he said the government was working on a slew of anti-graft and transparency measures, much before activists under Anna Hazare started a movement in this regard.
He said the government was set to present the Lok Pal Bill when Parliament resumed its session after the current recess. The intended legislation, he said, was a government initiative; five months before the Hazare-led agitation began, the Prime Minister had set up a Group of Ministers under Pranab Mukherjee to look into solutions for various kinds of corruption, said Narayanasamy.
The Bill was one of such items in this regard before the GoM. The other items were state funding of elections, an open system of procurement, time-bound delivery of services, allocation of natural resources, removal of badly performing officers and corruption in the private sector, he said.
Of these the Lok Pal Bill and Time-Bound Delivery of Services Bill were ready. The Procurement Bill was being examined by Parliament's standing committee. Already, about Rs 2 lakh crore of goods and services were being procured through an open system, the minister said.
The time-bound delivery and grievance redressal legislations, the minister said, were modelled on the lines of the existing Right to Information Act and would not pose a threat to federalism, as feared by some opposition parties.
He said there would be a state and central commission, to ensure grievances regarding services provided by a state were addressed at that level and those regarding services provided by the Centre were addressed by the central commission.
The objective was to ensure people get services on time and get grievances redressed in a month, the minister said.
The Prevention of Corruption Act is also being amended to strengthen it, he said.
Also, the home ministry is to amend the Indian Penal Code soon to tackle corruption in the private sector, said Narayanasami.
On personnel, he said his ministry had been battling a continuing shortage of administrative officers since 2001. There is a shortage of 1,000 officers nationwide, he added. "We are able to provide only 70 per cent of a state's requirement. It is true demand has outstripped supply and there is a temporary shortage," said the ministry's secretary, P K Mishra.
He said the main reason was proliferation of social sector schemes, which required many administrative offiers for implementation, a trend since 2001.