Action Group Against Corruption, comprising the following members held a press conference at Chandigarh Press Club, Sector-27, Chandigarh today (4 January 2012) at 3.00 P.M.:-
1. Professor Jagmohan Singh, Chairman. (Ludhiana)
2. Advocate H.C. Arora, Convener. (Chandigarh)
3. Balwant Singh Khera. (Hoshiarpur)
4. Sarabjit Singh Kahlon. (Ludhiana)
5. Parvinder Kittna (Nawan Shahar).
The Action Group Convener, Advocate H.C. Arora, distributed copies of the joint letter sent by him to S. Sukhbir Singh Badal, S. Manpreet Singh Badal, and Captain Amrinder Singh, leaders of the 3 major political parties in Punjab on 3.1.2012
The speakers at the press conference stated that due to non-clearance of the Lokpal Bill by Rajya Sabha, and there being virtually no chances of the said Bill being passed in relation to provisions for mandatory setting up Lokayuktas in States ( as all the regional parties are treating the said provisions as attack on federalism), it is necessary to confront the 3 major political parties of Punjab on this issue.
The speakers pointed out that corruption in Punjab has risen to monstrous proportions. Presently, the Government servants are not under jurisdiction of Lokpal of Punjab State; It has no investigation agency of its own; it does not exercise jurisdiction over the Punjab Vigilance Bureau. It has no power to prosecute the corrupt persons, including Government servants or Ministers. On the other hand, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau is not independent or autonomous. It cannot move an inch without permission of the State Government. Its position is worse than the position of CBI which is often stated to be misused by the Central Government against its opponents.
The Convener of the Group further pointed out that every Governments that came to power in Punjab have tried to appoint persons of its choice as Chairman and Members of the Public Service Commission and other selection committees. Motive for doing so is obvious. Such Service Commissions and other Selection Committees have vast discretionary powers in fixing the criteria for weightage to interview, which is often misused, leading to selection of less meritorious candidates at the cost of more meritorious candidates.
The Convener of the Group further pointed out that Punjab Police has been criminalized to a great extent, as there are about 1500 police officials in Punjab who are facing criminal cases involving murder, rape, kidnapping, fraud and forgery, dowry death etc. Citizens cannot expect justice from such tainted Police officials. The criminal trials under the existing system are prolonged, which enables the tainted police officials to win over witnesses etc, leading to their acquittal for want of prosecution evidence,
The Action Group Against Corruption, therefore demands from the 3 major political parties of Punjab that they should incorporate the following promises in their respective election manifestos:-
(1) Punjab Lokpal (Lokayukta) shall be given the jurisdiction over all employees of the State Government and those employed in various boards, corporations and Universities, as well as the employees of Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Improvement Trusts and Gram Panchayats;
(2) Punjab Vigilance Bureau shall be given financial and functional autonomy, and shall be placed at disposal of the Punjab Lokpal in the same manner as the CBI may be placed at disposal of Central Lokpal under the Central Bill/ Act;
(3) Punjab Lokpal shall be given an independent investigation agency, and shall also be given powers to prosecute the corrupt public servants;
(4) State Government shall set up exclusive Lokpal/ Lokayukta Courts in each district for fast and expeditious trials on charges of corruption.
(5) State Government shall bring an Ordinance, called by whatever name, say “General and Common Conditions of Recruitment to Services Ordinance, 2012”, clearly declaring that all inconsistent provisions contained in any service rules/ regulations pertaining to recruitment to various posts in or under the State Government, various boards, corporations and Universities, as well as Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Improvement Trusts and Gram Panchayats, giving any weightage to interview/ viva shall stand abolished with immediate effect.
(6) State Government shall set up fast track courts in each district for day to day trial of all those police officers/ officials, who are facing criminal charges, so that criminalization of Punjab Police may be put to an end.