: Andhra Pradesh assembly on Friday passed a 'historic' bill that will mandate judicial scrutiny of government tenders for infrastructure works of Rs 100 crore and more before awarding the contracts, aimed at rooting out corruption by bringing transperency.
The underlying objective of the "AP Infrastructure (Transparency through Judicial Preview) Bill, 2019" was to root out corruption by bringing in transparency into the system, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy said.
When he took oath as Chief Minister on May 30, Jagan announced that such a mechanism would be put in place to ensure complete transparency in awarding of government contracts for infrastructure development works.
Accordingly, the Bill was brought in the very first session of the new Assembly.
"This is a historic legislation, one that will show a new direction to the country in terms of transparency.
We have sown the seed and it will grow into a giant tree. Every state in the country will follow us," the Chief Minister told the Assembly, explaining the significance of the Bill.
The proposed legislation would also wipe out the corrupt image of Andhra Pradesh and redefine transparency, he noted.
Industries and Commerce Minister Mekapati Gautam Reddy, who moved the Bill on behalf of the Chief Minister, said the state government "endeavaours to fast track infrastructure development with transparency as the paramount objective".
This would ensure optimum utilization of public resources in public interest and use of efficient methodologies like reverse tendering, he added.
In all, 25 sectors like roads and bridges, urban development (including smart cities), health, ports, airports, water supply, inland water transport, telecommunications, highways and power, including projects under Public-Private Partnership initiative, would be covered under the new law.
Though initially the Chief Minister announced that the proposed Judicial Commission would be headed by a serving judge of the High Court, the government modified it to "serving or retired" judge in the Bill.
The Chief Minister told the Assembly that tender norms or specifications related infrastructure works worth Rs 100 crore or more would be first referred to the judge, who would in turn place them in the public domain for seeking objections and suggestions in seven days.
"In the subsequent eight days, the judge, with the aid of technical experts, will scrutinize the tender norms after looking into the objections and suggestions and suggest modifications, if any, to the government.
The judge's recommendations will be binding on the government," the Chief Minister added.
While anything done under the new legislation cannot be challenged in court, the Bill says "it shall be open to the judge to devise an appropriate procedure or mechanism to deal with scurrilous or malicious attempts to obstruct the process of preview or thereafter".
The Bill was passed by voice vote after Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath and several ruling YSR Congress MLAs hailed it as historic.
The opposition Telugu Desam Party abstained from the House proceedings.
Speaker Tammineni Seetaram, who first announced that the Bill was passed, "modified" himself and said "the prestigious Bill" was passed.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)