Standing Committee of Personnel, Public Grevances, Law and Justice in their 52 nd report submitted to Parliament has recommended that Model Code of Conduct should either be a part of the Representation of People’s Act 1951 or the Rules framed thereunder.
Briefing the media in Parliament House, New Delhi, Mr Shantaram Naik, chairman of the Committe said the Committee has observed further that the Code, which was of voluntary in nature, at one time, has not remained so after insertion of para 16 A in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, which authorises the Election Commission, to suspend or withdraw the recognition of political parties in case of violation of Code of Conduct. Besides, some of the paras in the code attract penal provisions in other laws.
The Committee further observes in its report that the power of cancellation of registration of a political party is substantive in nature and, therefore, should not be regulated or provided for under an “Order” of the Commission. It should either be a part of the Representation of Peoples, Act 1951 or the Rules framed thereunder.
Further, the scope of Article 324 also needs to be examined as, many of the aspects which should have been covered under the Rules framed under R.P Act 1951 are presently covered under instructions issued under Article 324 of the Constitution by the Commission.
As regards EVM machines the committee has observed that “EVMs are very much needed in a vast democratic country like ours and have been used effectively in the elections in the country. The lacunae pointed out by Members, in the machine, needs to be looked into and removed to repose complete trust in the voter. In this context, the Committee desires that a detailed note on the status of reliability of EVMs may be furnished to the Committee at the time of furnishing ATRs.”
The committee has appreciated the the impressive EPIC coverage of the States, however,the Committee impresses upon the Commission to take all-out effort for 100% EPIC coverage of the States in a time-bound manner.
The Committee has also put on record it’s appreciation for the transparency that the Election Commission of India has brought into the electoral system in the country. There
has been good progress in making the elections transparent, although there is still much scope for doing more, the report says
?With regard to achieving the objective of the RTI Act, the Committee is of the considered view that much of it depends upon the proper implementation of the provisions of Section 4 of the Act relating to proactive disclosures, Mr Naik said.
The RTI Act casts an obligation on every Public Authority to provide as much information in the public domain on an ongoing basis so that public have minimum resort to the use of this Act for obtaining information. The Committee feels that quite a lot needs to be done in so far as implementation of the provisions of Section 4(2) of the RTI Act is concerned.
As regards CBI, committee has recommended statutory back up for the institution and said , allaying the fears that it may affect the federal structure, that a federal legislation, viz., The National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 is in place, which provides for an investigation agency at the national level to investigate and prosecute certain class of offences.
The Committee is of the considered view that a legislation may be proposed on similar lines, to give an effective statutory backing to CBI, which is a dire need of the hour, while taking care that the basic features of the Constitution are not compromised, Mr Naik said.
?The Committee also expressed concern regarding the shortfall of manpower in CBI and said that committee “fails to understand how, the country’s premier investigating agency, whose mandate has witnessed an unprecedented increase in the recent years, can be expected to function efficiently and keep up with the high expectations placed on it by the public, judiciary and legislature, with such a large shortfall of manpower on several important posts.”
The situation is beyond justification because in the proposed Lokpal regime, the role of CBI in investigating corruption cases is bound to expand tremendously.
Therefore, CBI can ill afford to have such large number of vacancies. The Committee strongly feels it to be a matter of serious concern that the officers and staff of CBI, who are already under immense stress and strain, will surely not be able to keep pace with the workload, if the vacancies continue to exist, the report says
Mr Naik said, that The Committee does not find merit in the argument put forward that if officers from States’ Police are not taken on deputation in CBI, this will give rise to the suspicion of branding CBI as agency of Central Government and also may lead to withholding of consent under DSPE Act by the State Governments.
The Committee is of the view that by giving sufficient training and exposure to the departmental officers in various fields, they will, over a period of time, evolve into experts in such fields. So, greater emphasis should be given to steps such as skill enhancement of the CBI departmental personnel, rather than encouraging deputation. Induction of deputationists in CBI should be strictly on a selective and merit basis aimed to instill talent and skill in the organization and it should not be a routine exercise of filling up deputation quota from the States, Mr Naik further said.