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The Indian government’s green channel for the corrupt

November 24, 2009
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The government of India allows corruption. How else could it have become the scourge that it has today? The Prime Minister may be thinking of removing a happy clause in the law, happy for the thieves that is. A clause supposedly put there to protect public servants from wrongful harassment which blatantly helps crooks.

Government departments and ministries have been misusing a constitutional provision (Article 311) in which the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) has to seek prosecution sanction from the government before beginning a formal probe against allegedly corrupt officials.

This law has a colonial tint. A seed planted then used by our own lawmakers during the drafting of the anti-corruption act. The clause has opened a floodgate for the corrupt with scores of officials escaping prosecution because of it. No one wants seems to have the will to get rid of it. At least not our elected representatives.

A politician suspected of corruption simply pulls a few strings and the recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commission (that a person should be prosecuted) is ignored!  In other words the government has laid out a red carpet for the thieves.

The facts and figures read like a horror story. Since 2004, in almost a thousand cases, the government ignored the findings of the CVC. In some cases, the accused have been “exonerated” without proper inquiry! You name the ministry and you can be sure that it has disregarded the advice given by the CVC, at some point of time. Whether it’s the Indian Railways or the Municipal corporations of different cities, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry or the Department of Telecom, public sector companies like the Delhi Development Authority or Oil India Ltd. And this is counting just those who were caught.

The funny thing is that the Supreme Court has interpreted the law differently! It has said twice, once last year and once this year, that the CVC need not take the sanction of the government to prosecute. It can go ahead on its own!

Supreme Court today ruled that prior sanction was not required for the prosecution of public servants, including chief ministers and ministers in corruption cases…

Apparently, sanction need not be taken if the wrongdoers do their thieving while on duty. I am not sure what that means, because don’t they all do it during the course of their duty? So what is this, another loophole? What is a layman to make of it? How much more confusing does the government want it to be?

The CVC should just quote this Supreme Court judgment and go ahead with the prosecution don’t you think? But if it doesn’t, it means that there are some factors are play that are not known.

The judiciary does not have a clean record in any case. I found a shocking report which says that in 1991 some Supreme court judges had passed an order that “the Chief Justice’s permission was mandatory for the filing of even a first information report (FIR) against any Judge of the High Courts and the Supreme Court.”  The Bench said this even though they “accepted [that] the sanctioning authority for prosecution was none other than the President of India.” Despite accepting this, the judges said that the President “shall act in accordance with advice given by the Chief Justice of India”. Hopefully this order is gathering dust somewhere. Or is it? What is the procedure for prosecuting of a judge? From what I have read, there was a case where a judge was accused and it was the judiciary itself which which set up a committee to look into the matter. I think the CVC should have a say in this, not just the judiciary. The CVC should have  the authority to be part of the inquiry commission which decides whether judges should be prosecuted or not.

There was a recent case of the cash-in-bag scam (Punjab and Haryana high courts) and suspicion fell on  justice Nirmal Yadav for accepting around 15 lakhs as a bribe. The CBIhandled the case but while the CBI (department) said there was sufficient evidence for her prosecution, the CBI head opposed it! Can anything be more pathetic? He said there was not enough evidence, and he sent his opinion to the attorney general (AG) of India. Guess what? Charges were dropped.

All in all, our corrupt government officials are looting the country or the public, and the government is giving them its blessings.

Related Reading: Indians believe their judiciary to be tainted
Why Mayawati’s assets are not a problem for the Indian government
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31 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2009 4:58 pm

    Nita,corruption is no longer an issue or a black mark for the politicians.The systematically woven fabric of corruption is a creation of the Babus against the need and demand of their political bosses.Neta tells them their need,Babu drafts a law which allows him to loot legally for the Neta and eventually both share the booty after the loot is over.
    All the laws are made by those who actually are the lawbreakers themselves.
    The system is so nasty that one can not do without being corrupt.They have to fight elections,they have to buy MPs,they have to save for the next elections,they have to provide for the rainy day,they have to ensure a steady lifestyle for their next generation should they lose power….for all this money is needed.
    The most important part is reprtodly played by the minister’s PA and Minster’s Secy.
    Police and other Babus also play important roles in collection for which they get rewarded with plum positions such as Governors,etc.
    State CMs have their own kingdom and source of corruption.
    Did not Sheila Dixit say that the Parole to Manu Sharma is legally right? Sure it was.

  2. November 24, 2009 5:14 pm

    It is disgusting. Not only this, but the way things are happening( regarding the barbi masjid report, but i think you will be writing a post on that). Our democracy, is turning into a pretty joke- the top “leaders” anyway get elected, where ever they stand from..so basically we know who is it going to be..now doesn’t that lead to a sort of autocracy ?

    As for corruption? It looks like we can’t escape it, it is omnipresent and bigger the person, the more they are protected.

  3. November 24, 2009 6:24 pm

    ‘if the law makers are the law breakers’ then there is no point !

  4. November 24, 2009 8:16 pm

    There’s a reason why the CVC refuses to directly prosecute govt. officials inspite of the SC’s orders. The CVC has many corrupt offcials in the top position and the CVC knows that in most cases where it ‘recommends’ action, the govt. would just sit on the whole thing for a while and once the controversy dies down they would sweep the case under the carpet.

    It’s true, the legal system is very corrupt and one can’t file criminal cases against judges without the consent of the CJI. One of the extraordinary things about the Indian judicial system is that inspite of the high levels of corruption in the judiciary not a SINGLE judge in the history of Independent India has been impeached so far. That speaks volumes about the levels of immunity that the judiciary enjoys.

    I interacted with quite a few law students during my internship and the cynicism that pervades the system is astounding. They told me in a very matter of fact way that it is impossible to keep your hands clean and corruption is a way of life in the judiciary. I have no idea how it is in the other countries… Does anyone have any idea?

    The present RTI rules for disclosure of assets by judges will hopefuly help in reducing corruption in judiciary though as of now the govt. doesn’t seem too keen to verify if the disclosure of assets is actually true. And the talk about setting up a National Judicial Comission which would be a regulatory agency of the judiciary has gone on and on with no concrete results. If the NJC is given wide powers and has members from outside the judiciary then there is a possibility that things might look up. Let’s see…

  5. November 24, 2009 10:15 pm

    Laws against yawning?
    I hope I am kidding.

  6. Sudhir Jatar permalink
    November 24, 2009 10:23 pm

    I have been in to social work to bring in transparency in governance for the past few years. I have used the RTI Act extensively to bring out suspected cases of corruption.
    My experience is that the Government of Maharashtra and the Central Government shield the corrupt and interpret the law to ensure that the corrupt get away. I have a number of case studies to support this.

    • November 25, 2009 8:57 am

      Keep up the good work. We need more people like you.

  7. November 24, 2009 10:33 pm

    Hi Nita,

    Corruption has become a part of governance.

    Further, no minister or bureaucrat will ever be punished as the system itself will protect them.

    Take the case of Koda……..a Chief Minister supported by Congress made his buck and the system will protect him or bump him off if he reveals all the skeletons in the closet.

    All this is done with a view to make prosecution impossible.

    Similarly, RTI could be made a toothless act if certain modifications under discussion are made to the Act.

    A strong public opinion and a activist judiciary could, however , stall the government.

  8. November 24, 2009 11:06 pm

    What ever is been done the corruption in India will never go………….

  9. November 25, 2009 12:28 am

    The whole system has decayed away by the termites – corrupt officials from top to bottom.

  10. sai kiran nagineni permalink
    November 25, 2009 8:12 am

    Yes Corruption is deep rooted in indiann society. Do you have any solution to offer Nitaji?

  11. November 25, 2009 8:21 am

    Thank you for the informative post, pinpointing where the thorns lie.

  12. November 25, 2009 10:12 am

    BK Chowla, Xylene, Sandesh, Reema and Vishesh, true, that is how it is, but somehow from your comments I felt that you feel there is no solution?

    rags, thanks. I agree with you about the CVC. And I think cynicism (which I have seen in the comments of this post) is all pervading. I think this is not a situation that we should accept. Each of us can contribute to make it better, in our own way. Its the similar kind of feeling that people have when they don’t vote.

    Sudhir, You are doing a lot and like rags I laud your efforts.

    Mavin, exactly. You can say that in capital letters. A STRONG PUBLIC OPINION. Unfortunately there is too much acceptance and cynicism. I hope I am doing my bit by shouting about it. As a writer, this is what my duty is.

    sai kiran, ofcourse I do. Each do his bit. I am a writer and I am doing what I can. Check out the posts on corruption on this blog. I shout about it as much as I can. It depends on your profession, what you can do. A lawyer can do his bit, and a doctor can do his bit. All of us can contribute. The thing is to COMPLAIN SHOUT SCREAM AND DON”T ACCEPT

    Mahendra, thanks. However I wish some smart lawyer (I know some of my readers are) can come up and throw some light on the reason for this attitude of the judiciary and how the system works!

  13. November 25, 2009 10:29 am

    One more gift for which we can thank the wonderful Congress Party, since they started the precedent and the other parties simply followed their lead. I doubt that the endemic system of corruption will change unless there’s a directive from the top. Grassroots efforts in this direction, while necessary, can only go so far.

    • November 25, 2009 10:34 am

      but we are a democracy Amit. A strong public opinion, and awareness will work because the politicians will want to get re-elected. I am convinced that this is the way it is going to happen. It WILL happen. The seeds of awareness are being planted everywhere, India is getting more educated, more aware. Its going to take time, but this is the ONLY way. And when there is indignation and anger from the people, things will start to happen. Today people are so poor they only set buses on fire and take out morchas for more benefits. All these people need to re-direct their energy and they will when their living standards improve. Hartal because of corruption. A non cooperation movement. A revolution by the people.

  14. November 25, 2009 12:34 pm

    Corruption is not just a social evil, it is the single biggest obstacle that we face in the way of mature nationhood. Many of our lesser evils owe their existence to corruption. However it is not enough to just bemoan the existance of corruption. We need to use the power of Social Media to bring to fore the instances of corruption in our society. Come, join us in our effort to stamp out corruption.

    Sanjay Uvach
    Corruption Free India

  15. November 25, 2009 2:07 pm

    I think the people as a whole are susceptible to corruption at different levels. Corruption in the Gove is just visible, that’s all!

    Destination Infinity

  16. November 25, 2009 3:38 pm

    I am surprised that a judge is not investigated by a stand alone third party, but by the judicial system itself. I am sure that many being your fellow judges or fellow corrupt parties would want to do very little to bring any light onto such problems.

    Also, if a person has gone 15 lakhs, I am certain they are also willing to let go a small sum from it to ensure such further income.

  17. Lakshmi permalink
    November 25, 2009 5:02 pm

    Many times people go into politics because it is a safe haven to commit crimes, make money and still not be caught. The whole concept of politics has changed to this. People who go in trying to make a change cannot seem to last long and are tempted into the racket.

    It is a surprise when these statements are put in a convoluted way and the way you interpret it, it is like a confession.

  18. Kanagu permalink
    November 26, 2009 12:17 am

    Nita, in our country and in many corruption not at all seen as a crime or illegal… We are taking it as a way of life…
    Leave the clauses, what happened to something called conscience… I previously has thought that judiciary is less corrupted… But when i heard about the amount passed on for each stay for a case or judgement in favor, i Have to say, it’s another one…
    I think this corruption is a heirarichal phenomena passed on from top to bottom… The one who doesn’t take bribe was the odd man out…

  19. Prashant A. Poojara permalink
    December 2, 2009 9:25 pm

    Corruption is a way of life. Let us just accept that fact that there is no escape from the obvious and probably the most efficient way to get things done. It is an overhead, a cost of doing business in India. Only, it hurts when the target of corruption is the common man who has no income to take care of these TPCs (third party commissions). Corruption is in our lifeblood and thrives and feeds millions. Most of us are guilty and have indulged in it in our personal lives but have never acknowledged it. One solution is minimal governmental interference in our day to day lives and high technology to trace the corrupt. If we look at areas where corruption is rampant in government we may zero in on:

    a) Public Infrastructure Development : Public sector construction is the original progenitor of of corruption in government departments. Bribing officials/politicians for accepting tenders, looking the other way for bad quality work, commissions for passing running bills and in general constructing a country to be ASHAMED of. Just look at our government buildings, roads and open drains.

    b) Food Distribution: The BPL population gets a handful of grains earmarked for them and the rest goes to private godowns. We have a situation where we produce plenty with millions scourging for food and dying of hunger. Of course that excludes the bureaucrats and those in government that handle this department.

    c) Transportation: The airline industry has shown it can be profitable with minimal governmental interference and taxes. The government airline is the benchmark of inefficiency and bad management. The railways need to be in private hands. We have had enough of inefficient buffoons and seat warmers who head this lifeline of our country trying to portray themselves as management gurus in the midst of overflowing toilets and filthy railway stations.

    If private corporations took care of these and some other areas such as energy production and distribution, perhaps we will have reduced governmental corruption. This may be replaced by private sector corruption which market forces and adequate competition could check. We have ample examples of improved services in the television industry, mobile phone market and the airline industry. Until then, we have a hopefully undiluted RTI and disinvestment proposals to look to which may minimize but not stamp out corruption. Now, if only the politicians will be gracious enough to phase themselves out of the system and our lives.

    • Preet permalink
      June 5, 2010 7:22 pm

      You are absolutely right, Prashant. We need the politicians out of our hair and lives. What we need is technocrats and economists like Manmohan Singh to run affairs for this country. As far as the judges go, they too are part of the system.

  20. Sudhir Jatar permalink
    December 3, 2009 8:29 pm

    What bothers us in social service organisations is that the corrupt do not distinguish between those who can afford to pay the ‘commissions’ and those who caannot. The majority in India cannot.
    One has to visit ration offices to realise how the common citizen, aam admi if you please, waits for months together to get or renew his or her ration card- just one example – because (s)he cannot afford to pay ‘speed money’.
    Corruption now runs into the veins of every Indian to the extent that the government of India under the ‘able’ leadership of Sonia’ji’ Gandhi’ji’ and Manmohan’ji’ Singh’ji’ have as one of the objects of the Right to Information Act as, “contain corruption” not prevent or elimiate it!

  21. vasudev permalink
    December 4, 2009 9:28 pm

    maybe irrelevant but can’t help but say this: a country ruled by the majority with least powers to the majority but conceding all powers to the minorities. what a country! no where in the world might such a country exist. a peril to the management and a pride to the minion. wow! i wish i would be born here for the next million years not in the management category: but in the worker category! vande mutaram!

  22. Tajbinder permalink
    January 5, 2010 11:05 pm

    Hi Nita!
    An article on Legal Process Outsourcing would be of immense help!!

  23. Jindal permalink
    September 23, 2010 7:47 am

    The problem of corruption exists because of lack of IT automation. India has the best pool of IT talent but the planning commission perhaps never thought of putting it to use for digital law enforcement. The Home Ministry should seriously embark on a modernization program. It has very good cost benefits too in addition to bringing in the black economy into the mainstream while keeping a tab on ubiquitous corruption which rots the foundation of the nation.

    Granted that corruption can’t be totally eliminated but the leadership needs to take note that corruption in India works against the state, whereas in the PRC state interests aren’t put down despite a good deal of corruption out there.

    Computer can’t and don’t lie — let the journalists do the selling to bureaucrats on copying the use of IT which is successfully used for crime control in the developed world. India can do it because there is a large pool of untapped talent ready to go. What is required is vision and leadership.

  24. October 17, 2010 4:25 pm

    it is a shame that many higher officials say we are standing so and so place in corruption…
    we the indians should be really ashmed of this act..

    In our country starting from applying a ration card to the election there is corruption.
    The basic reason of this corruption is that the law is not effective to the core ….

    I am very dejected that even some lawyers, doctors, police officials demands bribe …
    recently the lawyers enacted a stirke stating that some police officials have bet them…

    so for two peoples own act the strike is called……… why we people dont call for stopping this hell of CORRUPTION…..
    should our future generation do suffer due to this CORRUPTION!!!!……

    The best way to stop this is the punishment for the people who give and accept bribe should be enacted according to the rules of the military act of the oldest days of sending those people to the andam gail….
    now the gail should be created and then they should be sent there….

    “LET WE INDIANS DON’T ACCEPT BRIBE AND GIVE BRIBE”

    “JAI HIND”

  25. October 17, 2010 6:51 pm

    The basic objects of the Right to Information Act as defined by the Government, is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense. An informed citizenry will be better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed. Hence, the RTI Act ought to empower the citizens to promote transparency & accountability, and contain (as the government says) corruption.
    Nagrik Chetna Manch (http://www.nagrikchetna.com/) is actively engaged in making people aware of their right to information. The government has enacted the RTI Act to improve governance, i.e. ensure transparency & accountability. However, due to poor governance, over 95 % applicants use the Act for personal and institutional, i.e. individual grievances and not for public interest. The reason is the total failure of the Public Grievance Lodging and Monitoring System (http://pgportal.gov.in/). We have to resolve the dichotomy between governance and grievances to make the RTI Act more effective.
    Government does not want to eradicate corruption but only contain or keep it under proper control apparently because it presumes that corruption is a way of life in India. It is like advising a chain smoker to ‘contain’ smoking to avoid cancer rather than giving it up for good! Corruption has spread its tentacles so deep into our system that the the official thinking is that the aam admi should consider it as part of every day life.

  26. ajith ravindran permalink
    April 5, 2012 6:21 pm

    There should be a system for each tax payer that he/she have the right to know “what the govt. had done with their tax money and what are the developmental activities organized by govt with their tax money”

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