Magsaysay Award winner and social activist Aruna Roy, who's also a key member of the Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council (NAC), has urged the government to fast track two key anti-corruption bills, The Whistleblower Protection Bill and Grievance Redressal Protection Bill.
In a letter to Mrs Gandhi, Ms Roy said the government's actions convey "the impression that the government is not at all serious about issues of accountability and corruption." (Read Ms Roy's letter to Sonia Gandhi)
Writing to Mrs Gandhi on behalf of the NAC, which is meant to serve as the interface between the government and civil society, Ms Roy said that it is imperative for the government to focus on two important legislation: the Whistleblower Protection Bill and the Grievance Redress Bill.
"Despite RTI users and activists being attacked and even killed at regular intervals, the Whistleblower protection bill remains stuck in the Rajya Sabha, after having been passed by the Lok Sabha," Ms Roy wrote.
The Grievance Redressal Bill, she says, is key for the enforcement and protection of the Right to Information Act, which entitles citizens to access documents on matters of public interest within a reasonable period of time. Activists have been arguing for a while that citizens need grievance redress mechanisms which make it obligatory for the government to respond to citizen complaints about ineffective services in government offices. "We hope the UPA government will immediately ensure the passage of these two potentially landmark legislation," Ms Roy wrote.
Activists, who are a part of the NAC, have also been critical of the Government's decision to not renew the membership of Harsh Mander, Professor MS Swaminathan and Madhav Gadgil. The three were associated with drafting the Right to Food Bill. In an attempt to pacify detractors, Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to all the NAC members appreciating the contribution of the three outgoing members. However, she clarified that the decision was taken by the Prime Minister and the Government's decision was final.
A reconstituted NAC met today for the first time, chaired by Mrs Gandhi. Mihir Shah, Member, Planning Commission, and Ashis Mondal, founder of the Bhopal-based NGO, Action for Social Advancement, had been inducted in the advisory panel for a period of one year. Other members of the panel who have been renominated are N C Saxena, Narendra Jadhav, Pramod Tandon, Aruna Roy, A K Shiva Kumar, Deep Joshi, Anu Aga, Farah Naqvi and Mirai Chatterjee. The tenure of the members of the reconstituted panel is till May 31, 2013.