CORRUPTION TAKING ROOTS IN INDIAN BUREAUCRACY
Chief Justice of India’s recommendation for removal of the Kolkata High Court judge who is said to have been in corrupt case has come in right spirit rather belatedly. Let us peep in corruption which has taken indepth root in Indian bureaucracy.
With the indictment of a retired judge of the Supreme Court for his willful and gross misuse of office and moral turpitude by using public funds for private purposes in diverse ways while he was holding the office of the Chief Justice of an High Court, the morality of judiciary, an independent Constitutional Authority who has to ensure justice in every aspect, has been in jeopardy and it seems judicial authority’s reputation has started perishing and more interestingly in the cadre of ‘judge’ of the Supreme Court, the highest judicial forum of the country. Significantly, the seriousness of the case was further aggravated by the observance of the committee constituted by the 9th Lok Sabha Speaker which inquired into the charges against the particular judge that “.. continuance in office will be prejudicial to the administration of justice and public interest ..”. Inspite of the fact that most of the serious charges against the corrupt judge had been proved, no effective action had been initiated against him. There had been differences of opinion among the judicial people as to whether he be allowed to function as judge or not. Brushing aside the technically made ingredients of law, let us use common sense to understand the case.
Justice X had misused his office when he was Chief Justice of a High Court. To quote a few proved charges – He had unauthorisedly purchased furniture and fixtures which were wholly disproportionate to the requirements of his status and more so, he made purchases particularly from a few favourable sellers without calling for competitive quotations as per general purchase rules governing the government departments.
Glaringly, he flouted the service rules so as to effect the purchases without getting sanction from the Government. Another serious charge which had been proved is that Justice had incurred huge expenditure of Rs.44000 a month towards telephone bills for his private residence outside his official residence. Third serious proved charge is that he took the official car to his private place at official expense for his personal use.
Proved case of the above disgusting irregularities committed by Justice makes a common citizen to wonder, how one can have faith and confidence in judicial authority when people like him holds the helm of affairs. One has to hesitatingly think about the content and standard of judgments being delivered by such persons sitting in the country’s highest redressal forum. When the countrymen suffered injustice whether it is criminal nature or civil nature, they go on seeking justice to the country’s apex court. When a man who has to give look into the justice of the cases coming up before him, himself indulge in such disreputable activities, how could the justice seekers expect reasonable judgment from him.
So far our countrymen have been seeing only politicians and their hands who indulge in corruptive practices openly. However, new era has now begun in which top bureaucrats also involve in murky activities. For instance, if one sees the so called security scam, top officials figured prominently included -former Chairman-cum-Managing Director of UCO Bank; former Chairman-State Bank of India; former Chairman-Unit Trust of India/National Housing Bank; former Attorney General; former Member, Planning Commission and lot more… Interestingly, the accused
former member of Planning Commission at one point of time had been regarded as one of the efficient managers who made the public sectors profit making. Was that his efficiency driven him to misuse of his office? There have been thousands of officials involved in corruption, bias, and prejudice etc at various levels which have not come to the light transparently. Only few of those mentioned above has received wide publicity in the media and others manage to live in the darkness. Justice case and the involvement of former member of Planning Commission provide enormous scope for a layman to review his confidence and faith over the present judicial and administrative bureaucratic structure. When bureaucracy whether they are judicial or administrative indulge in such wickedness and depravity, what makes them different from those of politicians who do politics for the sole purpose of earning money and materials in indecent way at a short period?
When XYZ holds an office of high order irrespective of his being an IAS, IPS or like and Judges of High Courts/Supreme Courts, Head of public sector enterprises or for that matter any government or private organization, citizens of the nation entrust full responsibilities on them to run the organization/department which they lead in an effective and efficient manner as envisaged in our Constitution without giving any room for self accomplishment, personal favourtism and without any other characteristic nature which would lead them to render injustice to the position in which he is expected to perform duties and responsibilities in an honest way. We, the common public expect these bureaucrats to guide their institutions properly and render motivate their subordinates efficiently and to control, monitor and follow up the functioning in a
sensible manner. The bureaucrats are the people who have to be vigilant over the activities and unearth the irregularities if any take place down below his line and take corrective steps and measures as deemed to be necessary to regularize the position in a transparent manner. Then only any organization would flourish in their services to the country’s development. On the contrary, if the Heads themselves slip in their responsibilities either knowingly or unknowingly, one need not speak about the efficiency of service that would be rendered by such institutions. All the more subordinates would emulate similar sensible characteristics of their superiors. Thus, the duties and responsibilities assigned to the top officials are going in the wind while they cherish their disproportionate personal ambitions burying in depth our laymen’s interest in particular and our country’s in general. The persons appointed to top and responsible posts are deemed to be of self-realistic, honest and of high versatility with morality in their jobs and in the intricacies of the responsibilities attached to positions they hold. When they are put in such an enviable position, country as a whole has put in faith and confidence on such persons that they would execute their assigned jobs in the manner in which they are expected to carry out, as per prescribed and laid down instructions/delegation of power relating to that particular assignment. People put blind faith on them. Few known cases mentioned elsewhere here shows that morality and bureaucracy is in very very deplorable position and the responsible persons themselves started to act like fence eating the gross. This deadly disease has been spearheading in most of the top incumbencies t various levels in most of the organizations.
The mudslinging/mind boggling position as pointed out continues unabated. Even if the culprit bureaucrats are caught sporadically for their misdoings, either they are not
punished or they take asylum under the available political patronage. Therefore, nothing happens t the erring bureaucrats. There are also considerable numbers of loop holes in the law governing them. Explicit example is the Bofors case. By saying this and that, at every stage the investigation is made immoveable thereby giving comfortable environment to the culprits which situation motivates them to commit more and more irregularities eating away the public money at a stroke. Every time a particular investigation unearths a fraud, only we are able to propagate in the news media for a short while and nothing more than that happens. Government oriented investigative agencies and judicial agencies have never been able to lay their hands in recovering the lost money, material and other interests of the country. This is the position even in the cases where the culprits are judicially indicted and charges are proved and so not to speak of other cases. At last, loss suffered in kinds to the country and the people con tinue to be irrecoverable.
In the given circumstances, government organizations, public sector enterprises and other related government agencies should ponder over as to how to tackle the white collar frauds in the nature of day time robbery being taken place in bureaucracy. In our country, as already mentioned, most of the culprits manage to get away from the punishment and other judicial consequences and that is why crimes, frauds, cheatings have been increasing upwardly very fast and there seems to be no stoppage for this worst situation. Being the case this, government and judicial bodies should think of severe punishment and speedy disposal of cases relating to bureaucracy. Recently, our President Abdul Kalam also drew the attention of the judicial authorities towards this issue. Severe punishments must be contemplated against such white collar culprits whose
negligent and laxity cost hugely the state exchequer. There should not be any let up in this regard whether the top people involved directly or not, their supervision and control machinery must form the basis for their punishment.
Most of the frauds being taken place due to ineffective control mechanism; proper supervisory measures not exercised by the controllers effectively; casual and lenient scrutiny of the papers by the responsible officials and so on and so forth. All supervisory and control functionaries whatever position they hold, they should be made accountable to the irregularities committed by their subordinates. All investigations relating to frauds, malpractice, cheating, corruption etc must be completed within a time frame and disposed of quickly, effectively, efficiently and also meaningfully. Government could think of a separate vigilance authority to have effective and diligent surveillance over the top bureaucrats in the country. Property, bank accounts and all moveable and immoveable assets should be under the strict purview of the proposed authority. At any point of time, if anything goes disproportionate to their position, the proposed authority could quickly swing into action and report accordingly to the government authorities who in turn have to take rigorous action against erring officials without any loss of time. The corruptive officials must be summarily dismissed from service without any superannuation benefits and with no scope for further rehabilitation to them.
Government should think of stringent rules and regulations governing the conduct of high level officials keeping in mind the changed circumstances where ‘making a good
buck in short period’ has become the way of life right from politicians to bureaucrats. Control, monitoring and supervisory functions should be made effective in every sphere of government and public offices. Work culture should be instilled in public servants. Code of work ethics should be made familiarized to the employees by conducting periodical training/awareness programmes on an ongoing basis on moral conduct and turpitude. In such programmes, the employees should be warned that if they fail in their duties and responsibilities assigned to them, they would be put on trial to face all the consequences arising out of their failures. They may be also briefed about the punishments being contemplated to the erring personnel. These are the pre-emptive ways with which government should motivate their officials to have sense of responsibilities and seriousness in their assigned duties before they fall prey to pitfalls.
Our nation has been experiencing very bad work ethics among top bureaucrats. If the officials who are expected to exercise appropriate control over their subordinates themselves commit frauds/irregularity, who will guard the public interest? Naturally, the judicial body should protect the interests of the public. But then again if judicial authority itself indulge in cheating , frauds etc., that who will save the public money is the biggest question mark now. It is time that government should enact stringent laws governing the public servants’ service rules (including heads of banks, insurance and public sector undertakings) and enforce them without any tinkering as and when situation so arises. Otherwise, the entire administrative process will go a political way which in turn would give unalterable sufferings to the public interests which have already been feeling the pinch by way of political atrocities. Government servants associations
and unions must rise to the occasion whenever truth and honesty is in peril under their supervisors. They must fight tooth and nail the corruption without any protectionist attitude in their so called comrade sense. This has become unavoidable because corruption is obnoxious. It has spread through the entire fabric of public offices with a greater speed. Even with all the checks, inspections, audits, vigilance etc, accountability is shirked and shifted to lower cadres in most cases. With the falling standards in the recruitment and promotions, most ingenious ways are found to get over the situations arising from time to time.
Laurels can be achieved by invoking proper guidance, control and monitoring at every stage and at various levels with foolproof methodology and time tested systems and above all with high caliber, ideals and integrity. Now the ball is in government’s court. It has to deliver it very accurately if they want to win by taking appropriate measures to arrest the worst trend prevailing in the Indian bureaucracy. Otherwise, hundreds of Mehtas and Dalals would born and brought up again and again to eat the hard earned resources of our country. In short, control and monitoring mechanism should be activated and their role should be tightened right from top to bottom.
PS : Prepared by me some months ago*