July 22, 2008, a black day for Indian democracy. The day reports that Bharatiya Janata Party legislators displayed purported bundles of currency notes in parliament, which they said [allegedly] were offered to three of their members in return for support to the government. Is it shameful?
We are all aware of the term ‘corruption’ and have had a lot of discussion on how to control it. It may be defined as the misuse of the public office for one’s own advantage or for the purpose of any other illegal benefits by a public servant. According to sec. 2(c) (vii) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, a public servant is, ‘any person who holds an office by virtue of which he is authorised or required to perform any public duty’. But in reality this has been seen to be abused.
Every person has their own dignity and some fundamental rights. Corruption also affects the fundamental rights. How? It has been seen that any citizen fears to go to police station even when their right(s) is violated. Why? Because they do not want to face a series questioning of the police. Normally, what actually happens is, a person when goes to a police station for FIR, they have to struggle a lot and face a lot in order lodge the FIR in the order of it being properly written. It therefore, suggests that we need such a body that could provide us a corruption free society. As per Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Sec. 13 (1) d (ii) of POC Act, “a public servant is said to commit the offence of criminal misconduct, if he, by abusing his position as a public servant, obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage.” This seems to be omnipresent be it in any police department or medical department and even in judiciary.
The question again arises – how to stop corruption in India? There are several bodies that are working for a corruption free system. Here are suggested some of the tools to reduce corruption:
1. The first tool is ‘education’. With the help of education we can reduce corruption. According to a report by Transparency International, the least corrupt state is Kerala, the reason being that Kerala’s literacy rate is highest in India. So we can see how education effects education. In most of the states, normally a fairly large number of people are uneducated. Those who are uneducated do not know about the process, provisions and procedures through which they can get justice. Corrupt public servants try to make a fool of them and often demand bribes. It is due to unawareness in the field of law, public rights and procedures thereof that a common and an uneducated suffer out of the corrupt society. This suggests that if we are educated, we can understand our rights well.
2. We need to change the government processes. If the members of the governing body are government officials, there will certainly be less reports of the criminal cases. The reverse may be possible only when there are no more criminal politicians in our government. The provision is that, if there is any case filed against a person then he would not be eligible for election. But if we see 100 politicians then about 60% of those would have a criminal case against them. If these ‘criminal’ politicians are in charge of forming and implementing laws, what type of law would be formed, one can only guess! Thus during election, we should keep in mind the person for whom we shall not vote. In India there is a provision that no person as a criminal shall be allowed as a Member of Parliament or member of legislative. Unfortunately a fairly large number of them are a part of it.
3. We can reduce corruption by increasing direct contact between government and the governed. E-governance could help a lot towards this direction. In a conference on, “Effects of Good Governance and Human Rights“ organised by National Human Right Commission, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam gave an example of the Delhi metro rail system and online railway reservation as good governance and said that all the lower courts should follow the example of the Supreme Court and High Court and make judgements available online. Similarly, Sivraj Patil said that the Right to information should be used for transparency. We have legal rights to know a lot of information. According to this act, (Right to Information act 2005), generally people should follow the procedure of law given to then when their work is not being implemented in a proper way in public services. This act is a great help in the order to control corruption.
4. Lack of effective corruption treatment is another reason. That means, instruments which are in use, are not running properly. Despite the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, corruption is still flourishing. Why? Because of weak actions and proceedings towards corrupt people. People don’t have any fear of this act and the court. The act may thus be revised for its better implementation.
5. Lack of transparency and professional accountability is yet another big reason. We should be honest to ourselves. Until and unless we will not be honest, we can’t control corruption. If each of us is honest towards our profession, then corruption will automatically decrease. We need to pay attention towards professional accountability i.e., how much we are faithful and truthful towards our profession. Corruption may be controlled by handling five major professions: lekhpal, medical, revenue, police and judicial.
1. Lekhpal, a government official, whose job is to examine, report and keep all records of lands. But recently, there have been a lot of cases in the court, which are based on land dispute. Why is it so? This is due to the flaws in the department of lekha vibhag. As far as this department is concerned, if the people pay attention towards professional accountability, land disputes can be considerably reduced, or resolved faster. This would account for a fairly large control over corruption.
2. Another type of profession where corruption is rampant is the medical sector. How? There are many government hospitals and public health centres in villages and cities. There are some doctors, appointed for the treatment of the people. But in government hospitals, there is hardly ever proper treatment for the common man. Doctors have started opening their own private clinic to earn more money. The public hospitals lack adequate medicines and other required facilities. Doctors may not be found on the scheduled timings. The poor people, who only depend upon the government hospitals, are suffering since they can’t afford treatment from the private hospital. If the doctors would come in time, and in hospital there is sufficient medicines and proper treatment available, then most of the people would have been healthy. Thus doctors need to give their job professional accountability.
3. Third one is the revenue department. In this department, a fairly large number of the employees are corrupt. They take bribes and leave the person who didn’t even give tax off the hook. For e.g. income tax. If every person is honest towards his/her profession then a heavy loss of Indian government may be saved.
4. There is a lot of crime around us and criminals are doing their work without any fear. If police becomes serious then there will be control over corruption to the extent of nearly, say about 60-70%. They should perform their duty honestly. The day all the officers will be serious towards their profession, we may expect a corruption-free environment.
5. And last but not the least, is the department of judiciary. We know there are several lakh cases which are pending in the courts in India. The process of justice is very delayed in our country. Due to this, the numbers of cases are increasing day by day. If the proceedings are fast, people may see that if they do wrong or commit any crimes then they will have to face punishment. People thus will hesitate to take bribe. To recall and mention a famous quote here, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’.
The writers are correspondents with Youth Ki Awaaz and students of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow.