The contentious anti-corruption Lokpal bill will come up for discussion next month in Parliament after the ongoing one-month recess of the budget session, Union Minister V Narayanasamy said on Sunday.
“The contentious bill, Lokpal, we are trying to pass in the Parliament. The government has done a lot on Lokpal. The bill has been passed in Lok Sabha. It went to Rajya Sabha, from there it was sent to a select committee.
"The committee gave its recommendation and now I have requested discussion on the bill in Rajya Sabha. After April 22, we are ready to discuss on it," Narayanasamy told reporters during National Editors' Conference in New Delhi.
The budget session, which began on February 21 and is having a month-long break from March 22 to April 22, will conclude on May 10.
Narayanasamy, who is Minister of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, also said that the successive governments for past 30 years have tried to pass the Lokpal which is being wrongly considered as an outcome of agitation led by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and others.
“The impression has been created that Anna Hazare and others wanted the Lokpal Bill to be brought. This impression had come into the minds of people may be through electronic media and print media, the kind of projection you have given to them.
"I would like to correct it slightly. This was not the initiative taken by them. In fact, successive governments for the last 30 years have tried this. Several bills were brought before the Parliament and it could not be passed because there was no unanimity," he said.
Narayanasamy said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had constituted a Group of Ministers on anti-corruption measures, months before Hazare started his agitation, to consider various matters including legislative and administrative to tackle corruption and improve transparency in the governance.
"The GoM has been discussing on it," he said.
To a question whether the proposed anti-corruption bill Lokpal will be able to check graft at lower levels, crucial for service delivery, the minister said all categories of employees would come under the jurisdiction of the Central Vigilance Commission which can recommend action to the Lokpal.
"Service delivery is the breeding ground for corruption.... Unless and until the mindset of people changes, nothing would happen. We are working on the training of the officers. Ethics and moral have been a part of their training," he said.
Narayanasamy said the government is also working on the amendments in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to check private sector bribery. "Prevention of Corruption Act is being amended to punish the bribe giver also. Till now only bribe taker was being punished. Now the bribe giver will also come under its ambit," the minister said.
He said the government's focus is now on moulding of ethics and moral values of the officers. "In addition to quantity, quality of officers is also very important," Narayanasamy said.
The minister sought a stop on waht he claimed was "trial by media" of the government.
"If you are watching UPA II, in our country there has been a media trial. Media is accusing people and sentencing people. It should not happen," he said.
He also appreciated Right to Information Act saying it has given immense amount of information in the hands of citizens. Central govt and PSUs have dealt with over 7 lakh applications under RTI so far, the minister said, adding that e-governance is being pushed by the government to have paperless offices.