Stop the Decline, Quickly by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (MAY 18, 2010)

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Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam
explains why it is important to initiate legislation to arrest the moral decline of Indian bureaucracy and other public institutions.

Official corruption is no longer news in India. Already the country stands at the 84th position in corruption rating by Transparency International’s 2009 rating of 180 countries.

But, that is not the point. After all, cold statistics do not show the scale and intensity of human deprivation and suffering caused by graft and official banality.

In a country where the Central government has admitted that more than 40 crore people are below the poverty line a single corrupt bureaucrat squarells away hundreds of crores of rupees. A lot of it is public money meant to be spent on public projects, or it is extorted from citizens in bribe. (It also comes from foreign companies as bribe to allow business with India.)

It is a monumental crime for these public officials whose salary comes from the pocket of tax payers whom they should have served as genuine public servants. These babus spend a comfortable retired life, which is also funded by common tax payers. It is the height of treachery that many of these people are busy swindling and defrauding citizens.

We salute the Mumbai high court’s Justice AB Chaudhari, who recently ruled that government officials found defrauding citizens, extorting bribe or looting the exchequer must be awarded life imprisonment.

Justice Chaudhari observed: “Looking up at the upsurge in the cancer of corruption in the country, the only way to have deterrent is now to provide life imprisonment in the Prevention of Corruption Act”.

The existing provisions in the PCA allows a maximum imprisonment of only seven years for corrupt government officials. The court’s observations came during the hearing of a petition filed by an IAS officer, Giridhar Kurve, municipal commissioner of Akola. Kurve had asked the court to quash a criminal complaint against him. The court dismissed his plea and directed the police to investigate.

Kurve took a decision to deposit Rs. 1.30 crore of public money in the Vidarbha Urban Cooperation Bank in March 2009. The bank closed down next month. Kurve had claimed that he followed rules, but the court rejected it saying that Vidarbha Bank was not in the list of banks where a commissioner was allowed to deposit public funds.

The judge observed: “Prima facie, there appears to be a clear-cut nexus between Kurve and somebody to dupe Akola Municipal Corporation.” He has ruled that offences by public servants and bankers of “various types of banks/financial institutions” had grown “in unimaginable proportions and there is hardly any deterrent punishment”. Hence the case for life imprisonment for such people.

Seeing the endless list of corrupt officials and thievish bankers, one has not only to endorse Justice Chaudhari’s views, but be an active participant in a movement demanding amendment in PCA to have life term for corrupt bankers and civil servants.

I will like to end this with an appeal to the Union government to initiate the process of an amendment in PCA right away.

 

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