Go get the corrupt

Joginder Singh ji
(Former Director – CBI)
The Central Bureau of Investigation in the first week of May arrested an Inspector General of the Central Reserve Police Force as well as a Commandant and nine others in connection with irregularities in recruitment of paramilitary personnel in Bihar and Jharkhand in 2007. Incidentally, the same IG had been found guilty in a similar case through a departmental inquiry but was allowed to continue with his job. It is also speculated that a dismissed constable was allegedly involved in the recruitment scam. Others who have been named by the CBI in the FIR also include a DIG.

Over 1,000 constables were recruited to the CRPF from 2007 to 2009 in Bihar and Jharkhand. It is alleged that the candidates were made to pay between Rs 3 lakh to 3.5 lakh each to get recruited.

The scam came to light as a result of whistle blowing by those who did not get their share of the bribe or who paid bribes but did not get their promised job. The accused in the case had modus operandi similar to that of scams in the Punjab, Bihar and Maharashtra Public Service Commissions. The touts of the accused in those scams as well as in the CRPF scam would contact prospective candidates offering them jobs saying that they knew people and had contacts in the recruitment board.

Corruption is a known fact in every segment of our society. Be it availing of services that are a matter of right or asking questions in Parliament or purchasing votes. According to a survey conducted on the eve of the just-concluded Lok Sabha election, corruption topped the list of concerns of the voters.

The corrupt take advantage of the protection provided by our laws, which are unabashedly pro-criminal and pro-accused. What prevents crime in a society is the inevitability of punishment. There is no such fear whatsoever in our country. On the contrary, the laws on paper are there to shelter the corrupt and act as hindrances to justice.

While hearing the appeal of a corrupt public servant, a Bench of the Supreme Court said, “Everyone wants to loot this country. The only deterrent is to hang a few corrupt persons from the lamp post…The law does not permit us to do it but otherwise we would prefer to hang people like you (the accused) from the lamp post”.

To put the record straight, legally only a public servant, including legislators, can be corrupt. It is simply astonishing that given the magnitude of corruption in this country, fighting against the menace was not even on the agenda of any political party during this general election!

Ask anybody who has interacted with the Government and he or she will tell you about the countless unnecessary approvals that are required to set up a business or to expand and diversify your enterprise. Babus from top to bottom make you feel as if they are doing you a favour by allowing you to do something productive with your own money, even if it in the country’s interest. The bureaucratic logic is simple: If my approval or sanction is going to help you make money, surely I need an ‘incentive’. The result is the proliferation of ‘Inspector Raj’, though all Governments swear against it.

As politicians are most of the time busy with trying to hold on to power, bureaucrats have literally taken over our governance through umpteen regulatory bodies and commissions, think tanks, and post-retirement sinecures. Look at the numerous commissions we have in the country. Right from the Union Public Service Commission, Vigilance and Information Commissions to Competition and Consumer Commissions, they are all full of retired officials whose only qualification is that they remained on the right side of the powers that be or did their bidding. So as a reward commissions and committees have been doled out to them.

A Government-appointed committee on civil services reforms has said, “We received overwhelming evidence that the temptation of post-retirement assignments under Government/statutory/constitutional authorities has made senior civil servants servile and pliable.”

A Hyderabad-based NGO has said that the expenditure on national governance by the 790 politicians at the Centre, the 4,120 of them in the 35 States and Union Territories, and the 18.7 million employees of the Central and State Governments, is about Rs 2,200 crore per day or Rs 7,60,000 crore per year, both on capital and revenue account.

Between January 2001 and October 2004 the CBI arrested 24 officers of the IAS cadre for indulging in various corrupt practices. During that period it also booked 65 other officers of the rank of Joint Secretary and above on charges of financial irregularities and swindling. Bureaucracy is called the steel frame of governance. However, it would be more appropriate to call it the ‘steal frame’.

Politicians talk about bringing the large sums of black money stashed abroad to India if they are voted to power. It might be more worthwhile if they ferret out the corrupt and illegal gains stashed by our bureaucracy in our own country first. Things have gone from bad to worse, and for this it is not the Government but our own indifference and our desire to get our work done quickly by bending the rules that is responsible. Corruption has never been compulsory. If five people in every town decide to expose corruption and at least 10 per cent decide not to bribe, we can make a huge difference. The Government on its part should make sure that once a person is caught for corruption, he or she should not escape punishment. Also, the cases of such people should be decided within a short period of time and not take decades.

Under the law it is the responsibility of the Government to eradicate corruption. It must show the determination and the will to rid the country of this evil. We should remember what Winston Churchill said: “Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never in nothing great or small, large or petty. Never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

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