"All Luxury Corrupts Either The Morals or The State" - Daily Current Affair Article

CONTEXT:

Former BJD MLA Pradeep Panigrahi on Wednesday filed a contempt petition against Odisha Lokayukta Justice Ajit Singh and Lokayukta Secretary Manas Tripathy for allegedly forging High Court orders pertaining to a vigilance probe against Panigrahi.

INTRODUCTION TO CORRUPTION

  • Transparency International (TI) defines corruption as “The abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs”
  • India continues to be among the most corrupt countries in the world.
  • According to Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which ranks 180 countries awards India a score of 40, rendering it the 81st most corrupt country in the world.
  • It should be noted that under developed nations like Ghana, Morocco have also achieved the same score.
  • CPI highlighted that unfair and opaque political financing, undue influence in decision-making and lobbying by powerful corporate interest groups, has resulted in stagnation or decline in the control of corruption.

CAUSES OF CORRUPTION

CAUSES OF CORRUPTION
  • There are many reasons for the cause of corruption in India.
  • Lack of effective management and organisation.
  • Inefficient working of various departments.
  • Appointment of inefficient managers, supervisors and executives at various levels of hierarchy
  • Lack of support for good leader, leading to impossible conditions to eradicate corruption from the society. But due to lack of support and cooperation from important sections of the society, good leaders are often defeated and suppressed.
  • Lack of proper vigilance systems in the country.
  • Lack of economic stability which leads to unemployment and changes in standard of living. It develops a feeling of insecurity in the minds of affected people which are taken advantage by corrupt people.
EFFECTS OF CORRUPTION
  • Hindrance in equal development
  • Obstacles for the honest in society
  • Backwardness and poverty
  • Brain drain
  • Loss and wastage of genuine talents
  • Loss of faith in administration
  • Loss of faith in judicial system
  • Loss of natural resources
  • Harmful to national security.

SOME STATISTICS THAT SHOW THE REAL PICTURE OF CORRUPTION LEVEL IN THE INDIAN SOCIETY

  • 1.38% of land and property deals in India involve bribes
  • More than 60 Percent Enforcement Officials takes Bribes
  • As per the India Corruption Survey 2019, 51% of the respondents admitted to paying bribes. Rajasthan and Bihar fared the worst in the country with 78% and 75% of respondents admitting to paying bribes.

CORRUPTION IN ADMINISTRATION

  • Corruption is dishonest behavior by those in positions of power. It starts with the tendency of using public office for some personal benefit. Moreover, it is unfortunate that corruption has, for many, become a matter of habit. It is so deeply entrenched that corruption is now considered a social norm. Hence, corruption implies the failure of ethics.
  • Political thinker Rousseau believed that human nature is rational and basically good but it is vulnerable to corruption. Accordingly, corruption should also be seen as sign or symptom of moral decline in society not just a behavioural fault of an individual.
  • The attitudinal changes from ethical attributes like Honesty, Integrity, Morality etc that leads to corrupt practices are:
  • Misuse of discretionary power
  • Personal greed
  • Decline of ethical understanding
  • Lack of courage to denounce corrupt behaviour
  • Lack of morals

RICH VERSUS POOR IN CORRUPTION

  • The links between corruption and poverty affect both individuals and businesses, and they run in both directions: poverty invites corruption, while corruption deepens poverty.
  • To be dependent on the government for housing, healthcare, education, security and welfare, makes the poor most vulnerable to corruption since it stalls service delivery.
  • It is the poorer section of the society that gets affected due to lack of work ethics by the administration where they don't have lacs and thousands of money to donate in the name of bribery. Rich can get away from this.

INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK TO PREVENT CORRUPTION

(With respect to legislators, not public servants)

Central Vigilance commission Act 2003

  • Gives statutory status to CVC. Central Vigilance Commissioner shall be appointed by President on recommendation of a Committee consisting of the PM, MHA and LoP in LS
  • Covers AIS officers, Gazetted officers of center, senior members of the PSB banks etc.
  • Commission, while conducting the inquiry has all the powers of a Civil Court

Right to Information Act 2005

  • Makes disclosure of information a legal right of the public to promote transparency
  • Section 4 mandates proactive disclosure of the information and digitization of the records
  • Many RTI activists have used it to bring out the irregularities in the functioning of the public authorities e.g. Vyapam scam of MP

Whistleblower protection Act 2014

  • More than 60 RTI activists have been murdered and many more assaulted due to lack of protection
  • WPA accords special protection to the people who disclose the acts of wrongdoing in the government. Provides anonymity and protection from prosecution under acts such as Official secret act 1923

Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013

  • Appoints an independent authority Lokpal at center and Lokayukta at states to probe into the complaints of wrongdoing by the public servants
  • Lokpal will be appointed by committee consisting of PM, LoP, CJI, Speaker and an eminent jurist

The Central Vigilance Commission

  • created in 1964, became an independent statutory body only in 2003 by an Act of Parliament.
  • Its mandate is to oversee the vigilance administration and to advise and assist the executive in matters relating to corruption.

IN CASE OF PUBLIC SERVANTS:

Public servants in India can be penalized for corruption under the

  • Indian Penal Code, 1860
  • Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988
  • The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 prohibits benami transactions.
  • The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 penalises public servants for the offence of money laundering.
  • India is also a signatory (not ratified) to the UN Convention against Corruption since 2005. The Convention covers a wide range of acts of corruption and also proposes certain preventive policies.

ROLE OF LOKPAL AND LOKAYUKTA

  • These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status.
  • They perform the function of an "ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.
  • The term Lokpal and Lokayukta were coined by Dr L. M. Singhvi.
  • Composition:
  • Lokpal is a multi-member body, that consists of one chairperson and a maximum of 8 members.
  • Out of the maximum eight members, half to be judicial members and minimum 50% of the Members will be from SC/ ST/ OBC/ Minorities and women.
  • The Chairperson of the Lokpal should be either the former Chief Justice of India or the former Judge of Supreme Court or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability.
  • The term of office for Lokpal Chairman and Members is 5 years or till the age of 70 years.
  • Jurisdiction of Lokpal includes Prime Minister, Ministers, members of Parliament, Groups A, B, C and D officers and officials of Central Government.
  • However, the jurisdiction of the Lokpal included the Prime Minister except on allegations of corruption relating to international relations, security, the public order, atomic energy and space.
  • The Lokpal does not have jurisdiction over Ministers and MPs in the matter of anything said in Parliament or a vote given there.
  • Lack of Independence of most of the agencies like CBI, state vigilance departments, internal vigilance wings of various departments, Anti-corruption Branch of state police etc creates a big role of Lokpal and Lokayukta in preventing corruption
  • In addition, there is the problem of internal transparency and accountability of these anti-corruption agencies. Presently, there isn’t any separate and effective mechanism to check if the staff of these anti-corruption agencies turns corrupt. That is why, despite so many agencies, corrupt people rarely go to jail. Corruption has become a high profit zero risk business. There is absolutely no deterrence against corruption. Thus, the role of Lokpal and Lokayukta becomes important.

CODE OF ETHICS AND CODE OF CONDUCT FOR LEGISLATORS

CODE OF ETHICS:

The Law commission has recommended that

  • Ministers must uphold the highest ethical standards;
  • Ministers must uphold the principle of collective responsibility
  • Ministers have a duty to Parliament to account, and be held to account, for the policies, decisions and actions of their departments and agencies;
  • Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests;
  • Ministers in the Lok Sabha must keep separate their roles as Minister and constituency member;
  • Ministers must comply with the requirements which the two Houses of Parliament lay down from time to time;
  • Ministers must recognize that misuse of official position or information is violation of the trust reposed in them as public functionaries;
  • Ministers must act objectively, impartially, honestly, equitably, diligently and in a fair and just manner.

CODE OF CONDUCT:

  • Prohibit MPs from misusing the power and immunities they get.
  • An MP should avoid conflict between a private and a public interest.
  • No parliamentarian should be allowed to vote on those questions in the House, in which he/she has a vested interest.
  • Amend the Constitution to ensure a minimum of 110 days of sitting in a legislature having more than 100 members, and 90-50 days of sitting in Houses with less than 100 members depending on the size of the State involved.
  • The filing by legislators of a statement of income, assets and liabilities, and an indication of changes in these figures over time.
  • Punishment of members by admonition, reprimand, censure or withdrawal from the House in case of violations or breach of the code of conduct.
  • Automatic suspension from the House of any member involved in offences of grave misconduct.

ROLE OF PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES

The Committee on Ethics of the Rajya Sabha

  • Chapter XXIV of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States, provides for constitution of the Committee on Ethics to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of Members.
  • They prevent corruption by ensuring
  • Members must not do anything that brings disrepute to the Parliament and affects their credibility.
  • Members must utilize their position as Members of Parliament to advance general well being of the people.
  • Members holding public offices should use public resources in such a manner as may lead to public good.
  • Members should not be disrespectful to any religion and work for the promotion of secular values.
  • Members should keep uppermost in their mind the fundamental duties listed in part IV A of the Constitution.
  • Members are expected to maintain high standards of morality, dignity, decency and values in public life.
  • And others

The Committee on Ethics of the Lok Sabha

  • The members should abide by the following general ethical principles:
  • Members must utilize their position to advance general well being of the people.
  • In case of conflict between their personal interest and public interest, they must resolve the conflict so that personal interests are subordinate to the duty of public office.
  • Conflict between private financial/family interest should be resolved in a manner that the public interest is not jeopardized.
  • Members holding public offices should use public resources in such a manner as may lead to public good.
  • Members must keep uppermost in their mind the fundamental duties listed in Part-IV of the Constitution.
  • Members should maintain high standards of morality, dignity, decency and values in public life.

WAY FORWARD WITH SUGGESTIONS

Some of the suggestions are:

  • Establishing the Civil Service Board to curb the excessive political control over administration
  • Simplifying the disciplinary proceedings and strengthening preventive vigilance within the departments to ensure corrupt civil servant do not occupy the sensitive position
  • Barring the criminals from entering the legislatures by amending Representation of People's Act.
  • Banning the cash donation to political party and imposing limits on the overall expenditure of the political parties
  • Empowering ECI by giving legal force to MCC and making paid news a criminal offence
  • Exploring the idea of state funding as recommended by Indrajit Gupta committee
  • Bringing Transparency of the Rules Act (TORA) as recommended by Economic survey to increase transparency and awareness about rules
  • Amending the anti-defection law to strengthen legislative control over the executive as envisaged under constitution and not the other way round

In a speech, Sri M Venkaiah Naidu said that corruption is biggest hurdle to inclusive growth and called upon the youth to support those who are fighting to eradicate the malice of corruption from the country. Clearly, this is the lighthouse for the path ahead to corruption-free India.

Sources

  • The Indian Express
  • PRS
  • PIB
  • Legal Services India
  • The Hindu
General Studies Paper 4
  • Ethics