New Lokpal legislation will have power to act on CM, ministers: Amarinder

Chandigarh: The Punjab government will enact a new Lokpal legislation with the powers to initiate action on complaints against the chief minister, the ministers and the bureaucracy at all levels, Amarinder Singh told Assembly on Monday.

Chief Minister Amarinder, who was speaking during the ongoing budget session in Chandigarh, said the government has also decided to ‘review and revamp’ the Right to Service Commission Act to bring in greater accountability into the system.

“Revamp of the Unified Delivery Centres/Service Centres is also on the cards. While the government is also examining a proposal to establish Nayaya Panchayats to ensure easy, quick and affordable justice at grassroots. The government has also initiated the process to establish special courts to settle matters concerning NRIs, serving soldiers, drug peddlers, for speedier justice,” he said the chief minister also reiterated his commitment to preserving the freedom of press, saying his government stands committed against censorship, monopoly and cartelization in various forms of media.

He assured of transparency and a level playing field to all interested parties in news channels and cable networks. Alleging that governance had been a ‘major casualty’ in the previous government, Amarinder said his government was phasing out the ‘pseudo reforms’ unleashed by the previous government by re-engineering the processes to achieve genuine reforms focused on the welfare of the people, as well as ease and freedom of doing business in Punjab.

“Revamp of the Unified Delivery Centres/Service Centres with on-line apps will ensure quick and effective delivery of services to the citizens,” he said, adding that 70 per cent of the centres established by the previous government were “non-functional with unproductive liability of Rs 20 crore per month”.

“The previous government had spent over Rs 400 crore for building these centres, wherein limited service has yet been delivered,” Amarinder said, while promising delivery of services at the “door-steps of each and every household”.

The Chief Minister said the Right to Service Commission constituted by the previous government with 11 members had decided only 45 review petitions with an expenditure of Rs 11.82 cr during the last five years.

“The existing Right to Service Act will be reviewed and replaced by a new Act, ensuring that the commission is manned by permanent and regular staff with full accountability,” he said.

Referring to the ‘widespread corruption’ in the state as a result of the ‘mis-governance’ of the previous government, the Chief Minister said his government was re-engineering the processes and empowering the state official machinery to check corruption and ensure greater transparency in governance.

“The government has also established a Governance Ethics and Reforms Commission for comprehensive systematic reforms in the state to scrutinise all transactions of above Rs 50 cr,” he said.

Recalling the steps taken by his government to abolish the VVIP culture in the state, the Chief Minister clarified that there was no move to introduce VIP number plates for government officials and said they would only be adding G on the number plate of all government vehicles.