Security Agencies No Holy Cows: UPA

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2007, 21:36 [IST]

New Delhi, May 22 (UNI) Security agencies are required now to make disclosures under allegations of corruption or human rights violations, the United Progressive Alliance cited today as a reflection of its governance.

''Even security agencies are subject to disclosure now in cases of allegations of corruption or violation of human rights,'' said a UPA Report to the People for 2004-07.

The Report released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said this became possible because of the Right to Information Act his government enacted two years ago.

The move was ''a historic legislation to increase transparency in... government at all levels,'' the Report said.

The Report also listed steps to tackle problem of undertrials and expediting trial court procedure among efforts to reform India's criminal justice system experts say has been in deep trouble.

For instance, it is now prohibited to arrest women after sunset and before sunrise and police required to give information about the arrest and whereabouts of arrested person to a person he nominates.

An undertrial is required to be released on personal bond after having been in detention for half of the maximum period of imprisonment provided for his or her alleged offence.

India has a large number of undertrials in custody.

Judicial inquiry is mandatory now in case of death, disappearance or rape of a person in police custody and punishment imminent for threatening a witness, the Report indicated.

It recounted steps the government is taking or proposed to take to bring accountability in the judiciary, including a bill to set up a National Judicial Council tabled in Parliament.

The government listed among judicial reforms a plan to decriminalise petty offences and set up people-friendly local courts and grameen nyayalayas.

It also promised better contract enforcement mechanisms, including through fast track and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

The government claimed to have formulated a National Land Resource Management Programme for computerisation of land records-- often a contentious and litigated matter-- aimed at a clear land title system.

The UPA reported a Social Security Agreement entered into with Belgium, exempting overseas Indians on short-term contracts-- up to five years-- from paying social security and letting those on long-term contract draw benefits on relocating to India after retirement.

Similar agreements are on cards with the Netherlands, Sweden and France.

It also cited a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on manpower with the United Arab Emirates on protection and welfare of overseas Indian workers, including non-payment or delay in payment of wages or ''harsh'' working and living conditions.

An MoU with Kuwait has been approved and arrangements are expected with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman and Malaysia.

UNI

 

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