Lokayukta investigates cases of corruption, where substantiated, recommend action. He is a great check on corruption, brings about transparency in the system, makes administrative machinery citizen friendly. His functions largely depend upon jurisdiction vested in him and facilities provided for taking cognizance of citizens’ grievances promptly, dexterously and expeditiously.
Corruption is internationally recognized a major problem, capable of endangering stability and security of society, threatening social, economic and political development and undermining the values of democracy and morality. It has assumed alarming proportions resultantly public funds going into private hands leading to enrichment of bribe givers and bribe takers. Ultimate result is, as said by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, only 15 paise, out of rupee reach the lowest level of population. Corruption, inefficiency, delays and insensitivity to people’s grievances can be identified key problems besetting the nation. Citizens bitterly feel the distance that separates them from the decision makers. This distance, makes them feel abandoned or even rejected and they eventually lose interest in public matters and become marginalized. Corruption does not mean only taking bribe. It is used in a much larger sense, “Conduct”, which is morally unsound and debased. Corruption and mal-administration are like twin sisters each acts in complement to the other. Corruption has ruined Empires. After completion of his book, “The Decline of Rome Empire” Edward Gibbon, the Great Historian, Writer and Philosopher was asked to reply in one word the reason for the decline Roman Empire, he remarked “Corruption.” which if not detected in time is sure to malignise the polity of a country leading to disastrous consequences.”
Supreme Court also said that corruption in a civilized society is a disease like cancer and if not detected in time, will malignise the polity of the country leading to disastrous consequence. It is like plague; it is contagious and if not controlled, spreads like a fire in a jungle. Its virus is compared with HIV leading to AIDS, being incurable (See State of MP & Others Vs Ram Singh (2000) 5 SCC 88, and State of Andhra Pradesh Vs V. Vasudeva Rao 2003 (9) Scale 569. Corruption in public life is a gross violation of human rights. It is anti-people, anti-development and anti-national. Rampant corruption is major national malady. It is the single big factor retarding the progress of our country, responsible for millions to live below poverty line despite astronomical amount being spent on development. It is garbage which is required to be removed otherwise it would hamper development of the country and bring bad name to the nation.
Supreme Court observed in Lucknow Development Authority Vs M.K. Gupta (AIR 1994 SC 787):
“…Harassment of a common man by public authorities is socially abhorring and legally impermissible. It may harm him personally but the injury to society is far more grievous. Crime and corruption thrive and prosper in the society due to lack of public resistance. Nothing is more damaging than the feeling of helplessness. An ordinary citizen instead of complaining and fighting succumbs to the pressure of undesirable functioning in offices instead of standing against it….”
A citizen faces corruption practically at every level and every sector of life. Corruption is anti-national, anti-poor, anti-economic development and anti-life. Rampant corruption is a major national malady. The Central Government as well as the State Governments are anxious to eradicate it because there is realization that it is a great hurdle on the path of progress because out of the huge plan outlays, very little goes to the people whose upliftment is essential for ushering the egalitarian society. This apart, it stalls the pace of development in other sectors too. It is, therefore, considered necessary to eradicate corruption with an iron hand otherwise march towards progress and prosperity would be delayed considerably. Why can’t it be eradicated when the number of persons indulging in corruption is hardly two percent of the total population of the country?
In its widest connotation corruption includes improper and selfish exercise of power and influence attached to a public office due to the special position one occupies in public life. Developing countries like India, face this problem, as a result, it assumes status of mega industry, where some people thrive at the cost of public exchequer resultantly imparting the developmental activities of the State. The United Nations Convention against corruption (2003) signed/ratified by the member countries to deal firmly with corruption. Secretary General stressed that corruption violates the socio-economic human rights of the people especially in the developing countries because funds meant for roads, wells, hospital, schools and other basic necessities are siphoned off and deposited in safe havens abroad.
Inaugurating two day National Seminar on “Access to Justice”, organized by the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association, in association with the United Nations Development Program.
Conduct and behavior in public life are, like never before, under very close scrutiny. It was essential that the three pillars of democracy-Legislature, Judiciary and Executive-are strong in structure, pure in form and un-corrupted and un-blemished in conduct.
The President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam made it clear that:
If we cannot make India corruption free, then the vision of making the nation developed by 2020 would remain a dream”
Consequently, understanding the menace of corruption and urgent necessity to deal with it in the context of existing scenario,public outcry, warning by transparency International, other NGOs and media, Government is attempting to eradicate it by taking steps for sometime past. The first Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by Late Shri Morarji Desai studied the causes for the steep deterioration in all areas of administration, Central and States and recommended remedial measures. In its report (1966) suggested, among other things, appointment of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the State. Second Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by Shri Veerappa Moily, deliberated extensively for elimination of corruption in the administration and the strengthening of the Lokpal and the Lokayukta in two day National Colloquium on “Ethics in Governance: Moving from Rhetoric to Results. Mahatma Gandhi, father of the Nation, had understood the gathering crisis of corruption and prophesized that the public would lead in the forefront in exposing corrupt practices and taking to task those who were involved in them.
He wrote in Young India in 1928:
“Corruption will be out one day, however, much one may try to conceal it; and the public can, as its right and duty, in every case of justifiable suspicion, call its servants to strict account, dismiss them, sue them, in a law court or appoint an arbitrator or inspector to scrutinize their conduct, as it likes.”He also said “On this earth, there is enough for everyone’s need but not for their greed.
Institution of Lokpal has not as yet been created at the Centre although efforts have been made since, 1959 while Institution of Lokayuktas/Lokpal has been established by many States through State Legislations. They provide for inquiry/investigation into complaints of corruption against public servants. He protects Citizens’ Right against mal-administration, corruption, delay, inefficiency, non-transparency, abuse of position, improper conduct etc. The procedure to be followed is informal and inexpensive; technicalities do not come in way. Complaint is supported by affidavit, making out case for inquiry. He is representative of Legislature, powerful friend of citizens to act against officials’ action, inaction or corruption. But not anti-administration, rather helps in humanizing relations between the public and the administration, a step forward in establishing an ‘Open Government’ securing respect for the rule of law, an educator aiming at propagating the prevention of corruption, inefficiency and mal-administration in governance. He is, therefore, a check on corruption.
Student, BA. LLB. (Hons.)
(Jaipur National University), Jaipur
[Submitted as an entry for the MightyLaws.in Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]