Thursday, 05 February 2009 06:43

Combating-Corruption

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In India, one cannot talk about public service without raising the issues of corruption, lack of transparency and accountability. most corruption at the citizens’ level is extortionary, and people have often no choice when faced with the dilemma of having to lose much more in the form of lost money, time and opportunity, not to speak of anxiety, harassment and humiliation if they did not comply with demands for bribes. The only silver lining is, everyone, including those in positions of influence is a victim and no one seems to be exempt from these extortionary demands. An even more alarming trend is the shift of corruption from licensing and permits to more dangerous and pernicious areas of sovereign functions of state like policing. The increasing nexus between hardened criminals, policemen and corrupt politicians is one such example. It is clear that the state’s gradual withdrawal from economic activity does not automatically eliminate corruption. Many practical and institutional initiatives are needed to successfully curb corruption.
The fight against corruption is too important to be left to a few formal institutions or politicians. The people at large have enormous stakes in clean public life and corruption-free services. Lok Satta over the years has been making determined efforts to curb corruption and cleanse the system.


State-wide Anti-Corruption Movement People’s Commission Against Political Corruption

Are you tired of reading newspaper headlines on political corruption every day?
Do you know about a politician who is blatantly corrupt?
Do you have some information on a public servant earning 'tons of money' illegally?
Do you know about a public work, government project or a scheme where unscrupulous politicians, middle-men and contractors are misusing public money and resources?
Our governments and political parties have utterly failed in catching and punishing those involved in serious, top-level corruption. Every once-in-a-while they make a show of catching the small-fry, but the big fish?
They always manage to get away. Until now. It is time, we, the citizens do our bit to uproot political corruption from our State. All you need to do is give us information about any corrupt politician, unscrupulous middlemen or about a scam in a public work. The best part is, you can do it in an easy, safe and anonymous manner!

People's Commission Against Corruption: You can directly send your complaints to this Commission about: Vast undisclosed assets of politicians and public servants (with as much documentary evidence as possible). Gross acts of corruption by public servants in contracts, tenders, postings, transfers, etc. Blatant misuse of office - serious instances of nepotism and favouritism Misuse and misappropriation of public money/resources; serious instances of cheating and fraud Land grabbing; unjust allocation of land and land alienation (resulting in wrongful loss to public and/or wrongful gain to any individual) All forms of irregularities in public works and contracts; major cases of over estimates; any case where tenders pertaining to public money is actually executed by a sub-contractor - at a cost of 80% or lower than the bid price. You can send your complaints with supporting documents/evident directly to the People's Commission Against Corruption by post, phone, and through email/internet.

Post
PO Box 100
Hyderabad - 4

 

Phone
040-2323 2711
(8.00 AM to 9.00PM)

 

E-mail
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Commission will conduct a thorough, impartial enquiry into all your complaints. They will make specific and concrete recommendations to the Government and credible non-government organizations and associations.


Lok Satta Party's People's Commission Against Political Corruption Terms of Reference

  1. Lok Satta Party is registered as a political party, under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act 1951, with the Election Commission of India (vide Order No. 56/152/2006/J.S.III/320, dated 22nd December, 2006). Around 400,000 citizens have become its members over the past one year. It has chapters in every district of Andhra Pradesh, and in over half of the mandals and more than 90% municipal towns and cities. Its people-centered ideas, agenda, articulation and structure and functioning are distinctive and already find wide acceptance in the name of Lok Satta Party.
  2. Lok Satta Party has constituted a People’s Commission against Corruption to highlight and combat the menace of deep-rooted and widespread corruption in public life and state functioning.

 

Objectives
The Commission will receive citizens' complaints against and independently conduct thorough and impartial enquiries into incidents of serious corruption in public life and state functioning. The Commission will subsequently give specific and concrete recommendations to the Government and credible non-government organizations and associations. These recommendations will also be made public simultaneously.

 

Members

The People’s Commission Against Corruption will be chaired by Justice Ramanujan, former Lok Ayukta of Andhra Pradesh.  Other Members of the Commission will be named by Lok Satta Party in consultation with the Chairman.

 

Terms of Reference

5.  The People’s Commission Against Corruption will receive from the citizens, complaints against serious corruption- with as much documentary, supporting evidence as possible, by post, phone, email/internet and any other means.

  1. The Commission will enable citizens to provide complaints and related information in an easy, safe and anonymous manner.  The information provided by the complainants will be used only towards meeting the stated Objectives of the Commission (above). Any personal information related to the complainant will not be disclosed to third parties/the public.
  2. Reception of Citizens' complaints and information by Post will be through a dedicated mailing address created for the purpose:  PO Box 100, Hyderabad – 500 004.
    * Vast undisclosed assets of politicians and public servants.
    * Gross acts of corruption by public servants in contracts, tenders, postings, transfers, etc.
    * Blatant misuse of office including serious instances of nepotism and favouritism
    * Misuse and misappropriation of public money and resources; serious instances of cheating and fraud by public servants
    * Land grabbing; unjust allocation of land and land alienation resulting in wrongful loss to public and/or wrongful gain to any individual
    * All forms of irregularities in public works and contracts; major cases of over-estimates; any case where tenders pertaining to public money is actually executed by a sub-contractor - at a cost of 80% or lower than the bid price.
  3. Reception of Citizens’ complaints and information via telephone will be through a dedicated phone like 040 – 2323-2711.  Citizens can call the Commission anytime between 8 AM and 9 PM on working days and will be assisted by dedicated tele-volunteers to provide their complaints and information, discreetly.
  4. . The Commission can receive Citizens’ complaints and information via email through the ID This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and the website/URL www.combatcorruptionindia.com
  5. . The website/URL above will also serve as a permanent repository, towards research, documentation and advocacy purposes, of information on electoral candidates’ disclosures along with the assets and liabilities of legislators.
  6. . The Commission is empowered to take up incidents of serious corruption and conduct thorough and impartial enquiries into them, suo motu, within the ambit of the Terms of Reference (above).
  7. . The Commission will be provided with all the necessary support, including logistical support, by Lok Satta Party in order to achieve its objectives (above).

Letter to Speaker, AP Legislative Assembly

1st April 2008
Sri KR Suresh Reddy Speaker
AP Legislative Assembly
Hyderabad

Dear Sri Suresh Reddy garu,

On behalf of Lok Satta Party and on behalf of all citizens committed to eradication of corruption from public life, I would like to convey to you the deepest concern of the people of Andhra Pradesh about the serious allegations of unchecked, monumental corruption of those in elected office in the State. The serious allegations of corruption leveled in the legislature and outside by responsible public figures have never been followed up by concrete action.

Corruption has thus become merely a stick to beat political opponents with, and clearly there is no intention to cleanse public life and promote probity and integrity in discharging responsibilities entrusted by the people. The cynical and callous disregard for all values of public life displayed by the ruling and main opposition parties and their leaders is shocking to the conscience of all fair-minded and decent citizens. Both the Chief Minister and Opposition Leader seem to regard corruption as a private matter between them and are completely uninterested in acting in concert to root out graft and malfeasance from public life. They are using the floor of the Assembly to merely score short-term political points by attacking their opponents, and abusing the privileges conferred on them as public representatives.

The ploy to enquire into assets of legislators by a sitting judge of the High Court, and the talk about a resolution of the House to facilitate that, form part of this cynical rhetoric and empty action. It is reasonable to assume that the Supreme Court and High Courts are unlikely to spare sitting judges for such fishing expeditions. It is also well-known that several Commissions of Enquiry have taken years, and some have not completed their work even more than a decade after they were constituted. Even if a Commission completes its work after a few years, its report is neither binding, nor can corrupt public servants be punished on the basis of the report. Vast amounts of public money would have been spent in a futile manner, and precious time would have lapsed. Almost certainly, such a Commission would yield nothing of consequence in curbing corruption, and it will merely add to the prevailing cynicism and despair about the corrupt and self-serving conduct of those in public office. I therefore urge you not to allow the House process to be abused for theatrical exercises or for cynical polemics or massive deception of the people.

Instead of such an empty gesture, there is concrete action possible and necessary to start the cleansing of public life and restore public confidence in our representatives and high officials. In such a course of action, the government, the House and the judiciary must be energetic partners in pursuit of constitutional goals. Lok Satta Party therefore proposes for the consideration of the State Legislative Assembly, the State government and the main political parties the following course of action.

  1. If the allegations leveled by parties and public figures are even partly true, they constitute gross acts of corruption and persistent abuse of public office for private gain. Section 3 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 gives power to the State government to appoint as many special judges as may be necessary for such area or areas, or for such case or groups of cases as may be specified, to try offences of corruption. Given the nature of allegations, the widespread and massive corruption that has become ubiquitous in our public life, the State needs to constitute at least one Special Judge of the Sessions Judge rank in each of the 22 districts outside the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, and at least five Special Judges in Hyderabad city.  These Special Courts, with all the necessary staff and infrastructure can immediately proceed to try all cases of corruption and assets disproportionate to the known legitimate sources of income.  The High Court will appoint the Judges, and therefore their impartiality and independence can be guaranteed in dealing with politically sensitive cases.
  2. In order for the Special Courts to be effective, there should be independent investigation and prosecution machinery to ensure that energetic and impartial action is taken against public figures who are guilty of corruption. Therefore, the Anti Corruption Bureau should be immediately strengthened in terms of personnel and infrastructure, and should be kept fully and directly under the control of the Lok Ayukta. The Lok Ayukta, Vigilance Commissioner and ACB Director General must be appointed by a collegium comprising the Chief Minister, Opposition Leader and the Chief Justice. All officials of ACB must be appointed by the Director General in consultation with the Lok Ayukta and Vigilance Commissioner. In addition, the High Court should be requested to depute serving judges of Assistant Sessions Judge rank to serve as special prosecutors in each of the Special Courts for a tenure of five years. The Special prosecutors should be free to engage other prosecutors for a tenure subject to High Court’s approval. Only when the investigation and prosecution are thus insulated from political pressure can fairness and independence be assured in pursuing these important cases.
  3. As per the Supreme Court Judgment in P V Narasimha Rao vs State (CBI / SPE), the elected legislators are public servants for the purposes of the Prevention of Corruption Act. However, Section 19(1) of the Act mandates prior sanction of prosecution by the government or the authority competent to remove him from his office. In the case of Legislators, the House is clearly competent to remove them for abusing the trust of the people or for disreputable conduct unbecoming of the members.  Precedents world-wide and in India amply testify to the sovereignty of the House.  For instance, the Parliament’s action in 1951 in removing (forcing the resignation of) H G Mudgal for a relatively minor infraction, and in recent times the removal of 12 MPs from Parliament in 2005 by the respective Houses establish this principle and practice beyond doubt.  Therefore, the Speaker of the House or the Chairman of the Legislative Council, as the case may be, should be the Sanctioning Authority for prosecution for violation of Prevention of Corruption Act.  Both the Houses can pass a resolution to this effect.
  4. The requirement of prior sanction is clearly unnecessary and counterproductive in cases of persons caught red-handed while taking a bribe, or assets disproportionate to known sources of income.  The law needs to be amended to that effect immediately. In respect of other cases of corruption relating to other public servants, the Lok Ayukta should be the sanctioning authority, so that governments cannot delay prosecution. The law should be amended to that effect immediately.
  5. The Legislature should immediately enact a law providing for forfeiture of all property acquired by corrupt public servants. The Law Commission, in its 166th Report (1999), presented a draft bill: “The Corrupt Public Servants (Forfeiture of Property) Bill” (copy enclosed)
  6. The Parliament enacted the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act in 1988 (copy enclosed). However, rules have not been framed in the twenty years’ period since then, and the Act remains unimplemented. The Union and State governments need to act immediately to implement the law, so that corrupt public servants will not use the current loopholes by acquiring benami property.

These six are the minimal first steps to begin the process of cleansing our increasingly corrupt and discredited polity. Any short term grand-standing without substance will merely undermine public confidence in our politics and government further, and corrode our democracy and Constitution.

I therefore urge you to ensure these steps are taken immediately in the House and by the government. I am taking the liberty of sending copies of this letter to the Chairman of the Legislative Council, the Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition and other Floor Leaders for their follow up action. In view of the vital public importance of the issue, and in the interests of transparency and informed public debate, I am also making this letter public.

With warm regards,
Sd/-
Jayaprakash Narayan
President


CC: Sri A Chakrapani, Chairman, AP Legislative Council