Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

May, 28, 2019

[op-ed snap] Shadow over data

CONTEXT

On May 23, while the counting of votes for the Lok Sabha election was underway, the NDA government passed an order to merge the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) with the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Details of the order

The order, which cleared the formation of an overarching body — National Statistical Office (NSO) — skipped any mention of the National Statistical Commission (NSC).

As the NSC is an independent body which oversees technical aspects of the NSSO’s statistical work, the worry is that this move will impinge on the autonomy enjoyed by the NSSO so far.

Coming at a time when data put out by the Indian statistical system is already under a cloud of suspicion, this is likely to raise further questions over the independence of the statistical system.

Loss of autonomy of Indian statistical system

Events over the past year have suggested that all is not well in the Indian statistical system.

New GDP series data –

  • At the centre of it all, was the NSC. It all began when a report, prepared by a committee appointed by the NSC, showed that under the new GDP series, the economy had grown at a much faster pace under the UPA, than previously estimated.
  • With the NDA government quick to disown it, the matter acquired a political dimension.

Employment Report

  • A few months later, P C Mohanan, acting chairman of the NSC, and J V Meenakshi, Professor at the Delhi School of Economics, resigned from the NSC, protesting against the decision to not publish the NSSO’s employment survey.
  • The results of the survey showed that unemployment in India had surged under the NDA.

Shell companies under MCA 21

  • Then, a few weeks ago, another report by the NSSO showed that a large number of companies in the MCA21 database — which is integral to estimating GDP under the new series — either couldn’t be traced or had closed down or were operating in different sectors.
  • This warrants a relook at the manner in which the MCA21 database is used for estimating GDP.

Conclusion

  • This series of events, followed by the government’s latest order, is likely to increase scepticism of official data.
  • But, while the more immediate concern is that of the role of the NSC, the larger concern is the decline of what was once a famed statistical system.
  • For a government that should have begun its new term by re-building the credibility of the system, this is not a good start.
Apr, 04, 2019

[op-ed snap] Turf issues in fighting corruption

 

Context

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 is complicated. The appointment of India’s first Lokpal has not been received with great excitement.

Anti Corruption Mechanism in India

  • There are now three principal actors at the national level in the fight against graft:
    1. The Lokpal
    2. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)
    3. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

Apprehensions regarding the Lokpal

  • Some people have misgivings over the independence of the Lokpal.
  • They wonder how it will work with the other two so that the objective of cleansing public life is achieved with reasonable satisfaction.
  • Some critics allege that the Lokpal’s composition was dictated solely by the establishment led by the Prime Minister
  • But what about the Chief Justice of India, or his nominee, another important member of the Selection Committee?
  • Casting aspersions on the neutrality of the highest judicial authority in the country is unacceptable unless one can prove with reasonable material that he acted in a biased manner in choosing the first Lokpal.

Jurisdiction Issues among all agencies

  • What is worrying is how well the CVC and CBI are going to play a complementary role in upholding the objective for which the Lokpal has been appointed.
  1. The overlap between CBI and Lokpal
  • The Lokpal has jurisdiction over Group A and B public servants.
  • This does not deprive the CBI of its own jurisdiction over these two groups.
  • The Lokpal Act permits using the CBI (referred to by the Act as the Delhi Special Police Establishment, from which the CBI was born) for examining a complaint against a public servant for misconduct.
  • Although the Lokpal has its own Inquiry Wing, it can nevertheless forward a complaint to the CBI for a preliminary inquiry, and thereafter for registering a regular case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • It is not clear what happens when such a complaint is already being inquired into by the CBI.
  • Legally speaking, the government, in addition to the Lokpal, is competent to order a preliminary inquiry and permit the CBI to proceed with a regular case.
  • It is also to be remembered is that the CBI can register a case even without the government’s nod in instances in which a public servant is caught red-handed while receiving a bribe.

2.Superintendency issue

  • If an individual lodges a complaint with the government and the Lokpal, what should the Lokpal do? Does it have the authority to give direction to the CBI to keep its hands off the matter and wait for the Lokpal’s own Inquiry Wing to handle the matter?
  • The act gives the impression that superintendency over the CBI is shared by the Lokpal and the government, and neither is in exclusive command of the former. Can the Lokpal order the CBI to suspend its inquiry in respect of a complaint and report on it to the exclusion of the government?

Conclusion

  • The initial days are going to be difficult in terms of coordination. Everything will depend on how well the Lokpal and the government sink their egos and concentrate on the fundamental objective of striking at corruption without getting bogged down by technicalities.
  • All these imponderables, however, do not reduce the utility of a highly placed ombudsman.
  • It may finally boil down to Lokpal’s perception of what his role is.
  • He can certainly shape the future of this experiment.

 

 

Apr, 03, 2019

[op-ed snap]The principle and procedure in Lokpal

CONTEXT

The Supreme Court’s ultimatum to the Centre to appointment a Lokpal within a given time frame, and the subsequent appointment of the first Lokpal in the country, is to be welcomed.

History Of Lokpal movement

  • The Supreme Court’s ultimatum to the Centre to appointment a Lokpal within a given time frame, and the subsequent appointment of the first Lokpal in the country is to be welcomed.

1.Preference to Vigilance Commission

  • Despite affirmations to its need, no one really wanted a Lokpal in India, preferring instead the mild Vigilance Commission from 1964 to 2003.

2.Ineffectiveness of other Commissions

  • In one sense, the National Human Rights Commission and the various national commissions dealing with Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women, children and even safai karmacharis are all special Lokpals within their areas.
  • But nobody fears them because they are promotional and deal with individual grievances.
  • They hurt no one and have become semi-ineffective.
  • No one wanted a strong Lokpal because it would demand accountability from politicians and bureaucrats.

3.Maladministration Model

  • After the Emergency, a new model of Lokpal emerged, a model for ‘regime revenge’.
  • The ‘maladministration’ model gave way to an anti-corruption model with a sweep clause of five years.
  • It meant that it would target politicians, but not bureaucrats.

4.Anna Hazare Movement

  • The 2011 Anna Hazare movement, which fought to get the Lokpal Bill passed, faltered in many ways.
  • The new government did not want Lokpal accusations and investigations to mar its tenure.

5. Supreme Court’s involvement

  • Directed by the Supreme Court, the Lokpal appointment process began in 2018.
  • The government constituted a eight-member Search Committee in September 2018, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, to recommend names for the posts of Lokpal chairperson and members.

Problems with appointments

1.Neither transparent or fair

  • When the matter was argued in the Supreme Court, advocate Prashant Bhushan asked for the names of those who had applied for the post.
  • This suggestion was shot down during the argument.
  • Did former Supreme Court judge, Justice Pinaki Ghose, apply even though he was a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) at the time?

2. Section 4(3)

  • Section 4(3) of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act of 2013 states that the Selection Committee “may also consider any person other than the persons recommended by the Search Committee”.
  • This makes the procedure futile.
  • The Selection Committee was to lay down the criteria for appointment and decide by the majority in cases of difference of opinion.
  • The public is entitled to know the list proposed by the Search Committee.

3.Background of members

  • Justice Pinaki Ghose is not known for any path-breaking judgments, so it is curious why he was chosen over other retired judges, especially as he was already a member of the NHRC.
  • No less than a sitting judge could have been offered this post.
  • The question is, should IAS and IPS officers be appointed, especially since they have to deal with fellow officers?
  • The field was wide open from non-government sectors as well.

Conclusion

  • Mr. Hazare was right in being overjoyed that a Lokpal has been appointed at last.
  • Aruna Roy and others were right in insisting on a wider jurisdiction on maladministration and delivery of services.
  • This Lokpal will always be known as a secretly appointed one.
  • It is supposed to be an anti-corruption institution. Much will depend on how it is used and against whom.

 

Mar, 19, 2019

[op-ed snap] Lokpal, at last

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Delay in appointment of Lokpal and consequences after appointment of Lokpal.


NEWS

CONTEXT

The selection of Justice P.C. Ghose as the first Lokpal has come after an unjustified delay of five years. Nevertheless, it ought to be welcomed as a milestone in the cause of fighting corruption in high places.

Background

  • The concept of an institutional mechanism, or an anti-corruption ombudsman, has been around for over 50 years.
  • It was finally enacted as a law in 2013, and came into effect on January 16, 2014.
  • Some of the credit for driving this legislation must be given to Anna Hazare’s movement against what many saw as unreasonable levels of corruption under the previous UPA regime.

Delay in implementation

  • Barring a report by the Standing Committee of Parliament and a couple of amendments passed in 2016 on the declaration of assets by public servants, there has been very little progress.
  • At one point, the government’s lack of political will to establish a Lokpal became obvious, leading to the Supreme Court repeatedly asking it to show progress in its efforts.
  • Ultimately, it was the court’s stern ultimatum to appoint a Lokpal within a timeframe that worked.
  • The government had initially taken the position that it was awaiting the passage of amendments based on the parliamentary committee report.
  • One amendment pertained to including the leader of the largest party in the Opposition in the selection committee, in the absence of a recognised Leader of the Opposition.
  • In a verdict in April 2017, the Supreme Court rejected the excuse and said there was no legal bar on the selection committee moving ahead even if there was a vacancy.
  • It is not clear why this simple amendment, carried out in respect of selection committees for the posts of CBI Director and Chief Information Commissioner, was not made in the Lokpal Act.
  • The Congress leader in the Lok Sabha,  did not want to attend selection committee meetings as a ‘special invitee’ and wanted full membership.

Appointment System

  • The appointment system is quite long, a two-stage process.
  • A search committee has to be formed.
  • It recommends a panel of names to the high-power selection committee, which comprises the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India (or his nominee) and an eminent jurist.
  • The selection panel has to choose from a short-list consisting of names for the posts of Lokpal chairperson, and judicial and non-judicial members.

Consequences

  • Now that the Lokpal has been chosen, victims of corruption have a viable avenue of redress.
  • The Lokpal will take over the work of sanctioning prosecution, besides exercising its power to order preliminary inquiries and full-fledged investigations by any agency, including the CBI.

Conclusion

It may be unrealistic to expect any dramatic impact on the lives of the common people, but the Lokpal and other members have a historic responsibility to live up to popular expectations.

 

 

 

 

Mar, 19, 2019

Explained: How Lokpal will form, function

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Lokpal and Lokayukta

Mains level: Appointment of the Lokpal


News

  • On this Sunday, a selection panel finalised the name of former SC judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the first head of the Lokpal, a national anti-corruption ombudsman.
  • This comes five years after the President had given assent to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.
  • Take a look at how the rest of the Lokpal will be selected, and how it will function:

Who all remain to be selected in Lokpal?

  • Justice Ghose was selected by committee headed by the Prime Minister.
  • The same selection committee will choose the Lokpal’s other members.
  • Under the 2013 Act, the Lokpal should consist of a chairperson and such number of members, not exceeding eight, of whom 50% should be judicial members.
  • The selection procedure for these posts is the same as that for the chairperson.
  • A search committee will prepare a panel of candidates, a selection committee will recommend names from among this panel, and the President will appoint these as members.
  • The Act states that not less than 50% of the members of the Lokpal should be from among persons belonging to the SCs, the STs, OBCs, minorities and women.
  • The same rules apply members of the search committee.
  • Salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as those for the Chief Justice of India; those for other members will be the same as those for a judge of the Supreme Court.

Terms of Reference

  • The Lokpal will set about creating its various wings.
  • It will have an “Inquiry Wing, headed by the Director of Inquiry, for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988”.
  • It will also have a “Prosecution Wing, headed by the Director of Prosecution, for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act”.
  • Once the other members of the Lokpal are appointed, the process for more appointments will start: Secretary, Director of Inquiry and Director of Prosecution and other officers and staff of the Lokpal.

Ambit of the Lokpal

  • For a wide range of public servants from the PM, ministers and MPs, to groups A, B, C and D employees of the central government various rules are in place.
  • If a complaint is filed against the PM, the Act says, “Lokpal shall inquire or cause an inquiry to be conducted into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any allegation of corruption made in a complaint”.
  • However, certain conditions will apply. The Act does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the PM relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
  • Also, complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of an inquiry and at least two-thirds of the members approve it.
  • Such an inquiry against the Prime Minister (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone.

Lokpal itself is also subjected to the Law

  • The Act also includes the Lokpal’s own members under the definition of “public servant”.
  • The Chairperson, Members, officers and other employees of the Lokpal shall be deemed, when acting or purporting to act in pursuance of any of the provisions of this Act to be public servants.
  • It shall apply to public servants in and outside India.
  • It clarifies that a complaint under this Act shall only relate to a period during which the public servant was holding or serving in that capacity.

Inquiry Process

  • The Lokpal may, after receiving a complaint against any public servant, order a preliminary inquiry (to be completed with in 90 days) or investigation by any agency.
  • After receiving the report of the preliminary inquiry, the Lokpal may order an investigation by any agency or departmental proceedings or any other appropriate action by the competent authority, or it can order closure of the proceedings.

Office of the Lokayuktas

  • These are the state equivalents of the central Lokpal.
  • Every State shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta for the State, if not so established, constituted or appointed, by a law made by the State Legislature within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act,” states Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act.
  • This means establishment of the institution of the Lokayukta including any appointment therein falls within the domain of the states.

When are the states expected to set up their respective Lokayuktas?

  • In some states, Lokayuktas were already functioning when the 2013 Act was passed. Most states, however, are without a Lokayukta.
  • The Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram Assemblies had passed Lokayukta Bills in 2014.
  • Following the SC order, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry Assemblies passed their respective Bills in July last year.
Feb, 20, 2019

Rajasthan gears up for social accountability Bill

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Rajasthan Social Accountability Bill, 2019

Mains level: Best practices of bringing transparency and accountability in administration


News

  • Rajasthan state government is all geared up to bring Rajasthan Social Accountability Bill, 2019.
  • The Bill would ensure accountability of public functionaries and authorities for timely delivery of goods, services and disposal of their grievances on time.

Rajasthan Social Accountability Bill, 2019

  1. The draft bill aims at ensuring provision of quality individual goods and public goods and services in a time bound manner.
  2. It says that every person/group of persons shall have the right to be mandatorily informed about the planning, implementation and expenditure of delivery of all goods and services through a comprehensive and open architecture for information dissemination.

Aim and Objectives

  1. The draft bill aims at ensuring provision of quality individual goods and public goods and services in a time bound manner.
  2. The Bill includes provisions for citizens’ charter, public hearing, social audit and information and facilitation centres.
  3. The new accountability law would incorporate the provisions of the Guaranteed Delivery of Public Services Act and the Right to Hearing Act.

Time bound grievance redressal

  1. Every person/group of persons shall have the right to file a grievance, obtain a dated acknowledgement receipt and ensure the redress of such grievances as per provisions of this Act.
  2. It provisions that every complainant shall have the right to participate in a block level open public hearing in the presence of concerned officials within 14 days of filing the grievance.
  3. The complainant shall have the right to disposal of the grievance and the receipt of a written Action Taken Report within 30 days of filing the grievance.
  4. In case of not getting satisfactory response, the complainant shall have the right to appeal against the decision taken on his/her grievance to an independent appellate authority at the District/Divisional and State Level.
Jan, 21, 2019

Explained: The search for a Lokpal

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act

Mains level: Read the attached story


Context

  1. For decades, India has made efforts to appoint an anti-corruption ombudsman.
  2. Last week, the Supreme Court “requested” a search committee to suggest by February-end a panel of names for appointment of the country’s first Lokpal.
  3. A look at how these efforts have unfolded, from Bills in 1970s to an Act in 2013, followed by a search committee and an SC deadline

Background

  1. Amid repeated demands for an ombudsman, many attempts were made at legislation, with Lokpal Bills introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008, but none of these was passed.
  2. It was four decades after the introduction of the first Bill that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was enacted in December 2013.
  3. This was the fallout of a public movement for a Jan Lokpal Bill, initiated by activist of India Against Corruption movement.
  4. Under pressure at a time when it was facing several allegations of corruption, the then UPA government brought the Bill and it was passed after several hurdles.

Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act

  1. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 was notified on January 1, 2014.
  2. It provides for establishing a body to be called the Lokpal and headed by a Chairperson, who is or has been a Chief Justice of India, or is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court, or an eminent person who fulfils eligibility criteria as specified.
  3. Of its other members, not exceeding eight, 50% are to be judicial members, provided that not less than 50% of the members belong to the SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, and women.

Various Provisions

  1. Inquiry Wing: Lokpal will have an “Inquiry Wing, headed by the Director of Inquiry, for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  2. Prosecution Wing: It will also have a “Prosecution Wing headed by the Director of Prosecution for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act”.
  3. For states, the Act says: Every State shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta for the State, if not so established, constituted or appointed, by a law made by the State within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act.

Jurisdiction of Lokpal

  1. The Lokpal Act covers a wide range of public servants — from the Prime Minister, ministers and MP, to groups A, B, C and D officers of the central government.
  2. These are to deal with complaints against public servants; the chairperson and members of the Lokpal too come under the definition of “public servant”.

Taking PM under purview

  1. Lokpal shall inquire or cause an inquiry to be conducted into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any allegation of corruption made in a complaint” in respect of the PM, the Act says.
  2. However, it does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the PM relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
  3. Also, complaints against the Pm are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of inquiry and at least 2/3rds of the members approve it.
  4. Such an inquiry against the PM (if conducted) is to be held in camera.
  5. If the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone.

Undue delay for implementation

  1. Once the Bill was passed, applications were invited on January 17, 2014 for filling up the post of Chairperson and eight posts of members.
  2. The same day, the search committee rules were notified, but appointments to the committee were not made. Lok Sabha elections followed, and a new government was formed in May 2014.
  3. The same year, the NGO Common Cause filed a petition in the Supreme Court, and later a contempt petition, over the delay.

What next

  1. Once the search committee submits its recommendation for the Lokpal and its members, a selection committee will consider those names and forward them to the President for his consideration.
  2. The selection committee is chaired by the PM, and its members are the Lok Sabha Speaker, LoP in LS, the CJI or a Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist as nominated by the President.
  3. Under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, a Lokayukta is to be appointed in every state within one year of the passing of the Act, but several states are yet to appoint such an institution.
Nov, 20, 2018

Corruption no longer among top 3 hurdles to doing business in India

Note4Students

Mains Paper3: Indian Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims: Ease of Doing Business

Mains level: Improvement of EoDB in India


News

Corruption not a barrier to EoDB

  1. The perception among U.K. businesses that corruption is a major barrier in doing business in India has halved.
  2. This is justified according to the latest edition of the U.K. India Business Council’s Ease of Doing Business report compared with what it was in 2015.

Halved since 2015

  1. There has been a considerable year-on-year fall in the number of companies that viewed ‘corruption’ as a major barrier – from 34% in 2016 to 25% in 2017.
  2. It has halved since 2015, where it stood at 51%.
  3. This decline shows a major improvement, indicating that the current government’s efforts to mitigate corruption appear to be delivering tangible and much-desired results.
  4. Corruption is no longer considered a ‘top-three’ barrier compared to those not currently active in India.

What made such steadfast progress?

  1. The report noted that initiative such as Aadhaar, electronic submission of government documents, acceptance of electronic signatures, and the push to file taxes online.
  2. This all have reduced face-to-face interactions where corruption is most likely to take place.
  3. The extent of digitalization, however, varies markedly across sectors, as does corruption, with those engaging in infrastructure projects still reporting significant issues relating to corruption.

Other Issues Cited

  1. Taxation issues and Price Points overtook ‘corruption’ as major barriers identified by 36% and 29% of respondents, respectively, the report said.
  2. The proportion of respondents identifying ‘taxation issues’ was 3% lower in 2018 than 2017.
  3. To this the report suggests that businesses may be starting to adjust to the GST.
  4. The key issue for those outside India is increasingly market demand for their products and services relative to government and bureaucracy-related barriers.
Oct, 29, 2018

[pib] CVC observes Vigilance Awareness Week 2018

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: About CVC

Mains level: Functioning of CVC


News

Vigilance Awareness Week 2018

  1. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) observes the Vigilance Awareness Week every year during the week in which the birthday of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (31st October) falls.
  2. This year the event seeks to motivate stakeholders to collectively participate in the fight against corruption and also aims at raising public awareness regarding the consequences of corruption.
  3. The theme this year will be “Eradicate Corruption-Build a New India.

Awareness activities

  1. Activities to be conducted include taking of the Integrity Pledge by all employees.
  2. A new feature is the establishment of ‘Integrity Clubs’ in schools and colleges to cultivate ethical values in the leaders of tomorrow.
  3. “Awareness Gram Sabhas” are also organized for dissemination of awareness in Gram Panchayats to sensitize the rural citizens about the ill-effects of corruption.
  4. In 2017, 67,131 such Gram Sabhas were organized during the Vigilance Awareness Week.
  5. Seminars, discussions and other outreach events are also organized involving the private sector, professional associations, trade unions and associations for wide participation of all sections of civil society.
  6. Organizations also conduct activities with high visibility and public appeal such as walkathons, marathons, cycle rallies, human chains, street plays and other public functions in various cities and towns across the country.

Back2Basics

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

  1. It is an apex Indian governmental body created in 1964 to address governmental corruption. In 2003, the Parliament enacted a law conferring statutory status on the CVC.
  2. It has the status of an autonomous body, free of control from any executive authority, charged with monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government of India.
  3. It advises various authorities in central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.
  4. It was set up by the Government of India Resolution on 11 February 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam Committee.
  5. The CVC is headed by a Central Vigilance Commissioner who is assisted by two Vigilance Commissioners.
  6. The Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on recommendation of a Committee consisting of the Prime Minister (Chairperson), the Minister of Home Affairs (Member) and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People.

For further readings, navigate to the page:

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC): Purpose, Functions

Sep, 14, 2018

India among nations with ‘no or little enforcement’ against foreign bribery: Report

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Exporting Corruption Report, OECD Anti Bribery Convention, UN Convention against Corruption, Prevention of corruption act

Mains level: Prevalence of corruption in India & how to stem its propogation


News

‘Exporting Corruption Report’ 2018

  1. India is among four countries with “no or little enforcement” mechanism to check foreign bribery, according to a report
  2. The 2018 edition of the ‘Exporting Corruption Report’ was released by anti-corruption organisation Transparency International
  3.  The classification of enforcement is based on the convention countries’ enforcement actions in the period 2014-2017

India included for the first time

  1. In this 2018 report, China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore are classified for the first time
  2. They all have 2 per cent or more of world exports but are not parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention
  3. All 4 fall into the lowest level (little or no enforcement)
  4. They are, however, parties to the UN Convention against Corruption, which also calls for enforcement against foreign bribery

OECD Anti-Bribery Convention

  1. Officially known as Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions is a convention of the OECD aimed at reducing political corruption and corporate crime in developing countries, by encouraging sanctions against bribery in international business transactions carried out by companies based in the Convention member countries
  2. Its goal is to create a truly level playing field in today’s international business environment
  3. The Convention requires adherents to criminalise acts of offering or giving bribe, but not of soliciting or receiving bribes
  4. Countries that have signed the convention are required to put in place legislation that criminalises the act of bribing a foreign public official
  5. The OECD has no authority to implement the convention but instead monitors implementation by participating countries via its Working Group on Bribery
  6. The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention was adopted in 1997 to address the supply side of international corruption
  7. There are now 44 parties to the convention, 36 of them members of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development)

Amendment to Prevention of corruption act

  1. In July 2018, the Indian Parliament passed a bill amending the present Prevention of Corruption Act, which covers bribe payers for the first time
  2. The bill also covers agents, subsidiaries and subcontractors of foreign firms working in India or doing business with Indian entities
  3. The Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act prescribe criminal and civil liability only for domestic corruption
Jul, 30, 2018

[op-ed snap] Layers of protection: on changes in anti-corruption law

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, UN Convention Against Corruption

Mains level: Corruption menace prevalent in India and steps that can be taken to curb it


Context

Amendment to PCA, 1988

  1. The amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, adopted recently by both Houses of Parliament, are a mixed bag
  2. Moves to make changes in this law, aimed at combating corruption in government, were largely centred on the misuse of one provision — Section 13 (1)d
  3. Under this provision, public servants are culpable for securing a pecuniary advantage for another “without any public interest”

Impact of Section 13(d)

  1. It resulted in many honest officials being prosecuted even when they gained nothing and merely exercised their power or discretion in favour of someone
  2. It had a chilling effect on governance and deterred bold decision-making

Effect of the amendment 

  1. The amended form may have a liberating effect on honest officials
  2. It is more concise and restricts criminal misconduct to two offences:
  • misappropriating or converting to one’s own use property entrusted to a public servant or is in his control, and
  • amassing unexplained wealth

An explanation has been added that a person “shall be presumed to have intentionally enriched himself” if he cannot account for his assets through known sources of income

On lines of UN convention

  1. By making citizens liable for offering a bribe to a public servant, the anti-corruption law has been brought in line with the UN Convention Against Corruption
  2. The only exception to this rule is when one is forced to give a bribe
  3. This exception kicks in only when the fact that one was forced to pay a bribe is reported to a law enforcement authority within seven days
  4. The penal provision can empower people by allowing them to cite it to refuse to pay a bribe

Adverse effect also possible

  1. There is no mention on what happens when the police or any other agency refuses to register a complaint
  2. People may be left in the lurch with no redress
  3. Further, it may render them vulnerable to threats from unscrupulous public servants who collect money to speed up public services but do not deliver

Prior sanction for investigation

  1. The most unacceptable change is the introduction of a prior approval norm to start an investigation
  2. When a prior sanction requirement exists in law for prosecution, it is incomprehensible that the legislature should create another layer of protection in the initial stage of a probe

Way forward

  1. Public servants need to be protected against unfair prosecution, but a genuine drive against corruption needs a package of legislative measures
  2. These should contain penal provisions, create an ombudsman in the form of a Lokpal or Lokayukta, as well as assure citizens of time-bound services and whistle-blower protection

Back2Basics

UN Convention Against Corruption

  1. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is a multilateral treaty negotiated by member states of the United Nations (UN) and promoted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
  2. It is one of several legally binding international anti-corruption agreements
  3. UNCAC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 31 October 2003
  4. UNCAC’s goal is to reduce various types of corruption that can occur across country borders, such as trading in influence and abuse of power, as well as corruption in the private sector, such as embezzlement and money laundering
  5. Another goal of the UNCAC is to strengthen international law enforcement and judicial cooperation between countries by providing effective legal mechanisms for international asset recovery
  6. UNCAC requires state parties to the treaty to implement several anti-corruption measures that focus on five main areas:
  • prevention
  • law enforcement
  • international cooperation
  • asset recovery
  • technical assistance and information exchange
Jul, 25, 2018

Parliament gives nod to Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Provisions of the bill

Mains level: Measures to prevent corruption and grafting


News

Provisions of the Bill

  1. The Lok Sabha passed the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018 that seeks to punish bribe-givers and bribe-takers.
  2. The Bill provides for jail terms of three to seven years, besides fine, to those convicted of taking or giving bribes to public officials.
  3. The Bill also extends the ambit of public servants who will be protected by the provision of a prior government sanction for prosecution.

Safeguards incorporated for Honest Officers

  1. Safeguards had been provided to ensure that honest officers were not intimidated by false complaints.
  2. In a departure from the earlier anti-corruption law, the current law makes a distinction between collusive bribe givers and those who are forced to give.
  3. In such cases, the Bill seeks to protect those who report the matter within seven days.
  4. The amendments propose that a police officer will now have to take prior permission from appropriate authorities while pursuing cases against all public servants.
  5. Earlier, prior permission was needed only for joint secretaries and above.
Apr, 23, 2018

[op-ed snap] New ideas for fighting corruption in India

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Curbing corruption via innovative measures


Context

Corruption growing instead of reduction

  1. India’s liberalization that began in the 1980s should have curtailed corruption, but the opposite happened
  2. Even as technological innovations have reduced petty bribery, it has become clear that bigger forms of corruption in India are flourishing

Measures that can help in fighting corruption

  1. Bottom-up coalitions work and work better than individual resistance
  • There can be the formation of an institution called the “business community institution” (BCI)
  • An institution like the proposed BCI is likely to be more effective than the sum total of efforts put in by individuals across the country to reduce corruption
  • The BCI should enlist the support of the media, civil society, and existing social movements like the Zero Rupee Note and the ipaidabribe site, to resonate the anticorruption message

2. Social sanctions and economic incentives work better than legal action

  • If the law is effectively enforced, its penalties are good deterrents
  • Enacting and applying strong laws against corruption is inherently problematic since politicians and officials are the main beneficiaries of corruption
  • Social sanctions can be just as effective, or more so
  • Fear of social ostracism is a powerful consideration
  • An effective system of social sanctions will allow clean firms to experience a lower cost of doing business by being able to access better talent, cheaper capital or stronger pricing power

3. Accurate, publicly available information is essential

  • If workers, consumers, and suppliers of capital are to implement a strategy of penalizing corrupt businesses, they need to know who the clean firms are
  • To achieve this, the BCI will create a transparent rating system of 1 to 3 stars, like the Michelin star system for restaurants, reflecting its assessment of how clean a firm is

4. The verdict of markets favours clean firms

  • Markets are fairly efficient and the Indian stock market has shown tremendous maturity by offering significantly lower returns from non-clean firms
  • Firms with better quality of governance and accounting have yielded higher investment returns than other firms in the recent past
  • The market has delivered this outcome without the existence of an explicit rating system on the quality of governance

5. Corruption as an ailment is similar to obesity, not cancer

  • It is essential to not to think of corruption as cancer, insisting that every malignant cell must be removed or it will come back
  • Corruption should be compared to being overweight or obese
  • The fight against it is hard and slow; victories are partial; sometimes you regress
  • But keeping up the fight by all methods and at all times can mitigate obesity

Way forward

  1. India’s culture cannot be changed, from corrupt to clean, simply by relying on the government to enact and enforce laws
  2. Such a movement can succeed only if young and idealistic workers, consumers, entrepreneurs, managers, educators and the media all play their part and constitute a coalition against corruption
Apr, 23, 2018

President promulgates Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Parliament & State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges & issues arising out of these

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)

Mains level: Rise in Fugitive economic offence cases and ways to deal with them


News

Using heavy hand for economic offenders

  1. President of India has promulgated Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance that will allow the government to confiscate properties and assets of loan defaulters who flee the country
  2. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 12, but could not be taken up for discussion and passage due to the logjam in Parliament over various issues

Provisions of ordinance

  1. The provisions of the ordinance will apply for economic offenders who refuse to return, persons against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for a scheduled offence as well as willful bank loan defaulters with outstanding of over ₹100 crore
  2. The ordinance seeks to confiscate properties of economic offenders
  3. It provides for confiscating assets even without a conviction and paying off lenders by selling off the fugitive’s properties
  4. Such economic offenders will be tried under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)

Defining fugitive offenders

  1. The ordinance defines a fugitive economic offender as a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for committing an offence like counterfeiting government stamps or currency, cheque dishonour for insufficiency of funds, money laundering, and transactions defrauding creditors
  2. A fugitive economic offender is one who has left the country to avoid facing prosecution or refuses to return to face prosecution
Apr, 10, 2018

CVC witnesses a dramatic drop in complaints

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: The CVC

Mains level: Why is the CVC witnessing this drop?


News

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) saw a dramatic drop in the total number of complaints 

  1. The 23,609 complaints was received in 2017 by the CVC
  2. This number was less than half of almost 50,000 complaints received in 2016, and the lowest in the previous five years

Possible reasons behind this drop

  1. According to officials, the system for weeding out duplication of complaints is improved
  2. Also, a few other streamlining exercises undertaken in recent years helped in decreasing the number of fake reports
  3. In majority of complaints the allegations were found to be either vague or unverifiable
  4. However,some experts, said a deeper study was required to assess if the public was losing its trust in anti-corruption bodies because of their perceived inefficiency, quality of investigations and possible manipulations at various levels
    The CVC’s annual report
  5. The annual report itself highlights one possible reason why there is a general public disenchantment with anti-corruption mechanisms
  6. When it receives a complaint, the CVC calls for inquiry reports from the appropriate agencies
  7. As per the laid down procedure, the inquiry/ investigation reports are required to be sent to the Commission within a period of three months
  8. However, it is observed that in a majority of cases, there is considerable delay in finalising and submitting reports to the Commission
Apr, 02, 2018

Central Vigilance Commission wants to keep an eye on private banks

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Statutory, regulatory & various quasi-judicial bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Central Vigilance Commission

Mains level: Corruption incidences in the banking sector and ways to curb them


News

Avoiding future instances of malfeasance

  1. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has urged the Prime Minister’s Office to bring private sector banks under its watch
  2. It has cited the fact that they have been involved in many recent instances of malfeasance

Current provisions

  1. Vigilance officers in all State-owned public sector banks are required to report irregularities and possible wrongdoing to the CVC
  2. Private sector banks are out of the CVC’s purview
  3. They are subjected to statutory audits from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)

Back2Basics

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

  1. CVC is an apex Indian governmental body created in 1964 to address governmental corruption
  2. It has the status of an autonomous body, free of control from any executive authority
  3. It is charged with monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government of India, advising various authorities in central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work
  4. The CVC is not an investigating agency. The only investigation carried out by the CVC is that of examining Civil Works of the Government.
  5. The Commission shall consist of:
  • A Central Vigilance Commissioner – Chairperson;
  • Not more than two Vigilance Commissioners – Members

6. The Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a Committee consisting of the Prime Minister (Chairperson), the Minister of Home Affairs (Member) and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People (Member)

Mar, 03, 2018

[op-ed snap] Fear of forfeiture: on the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Functions & responsibilities of the Union & the States

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, Code of Criminal Procedure, Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1976, UN Convention Against Corruption

Mains level: Laws to prevent economic frauds and lacunae in their implementation


Context

The proposed law to curb economic offences

  1. Given the apparent ease with which economic offenders flee India and cock a snook at the banking and judicial systems, the proposed law to seize their wealth is undoubtedly a welcome measure
  2. Its success rides on the slim hope that the threat of confiscation of property will act as a serious deterrent to those seeking to flee or as a big incentive for fugitives to return

Problems with previous laws

  1. From the provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure for attachment of the property of ‘proclaimed offenders’, to sections in Acts targeting smugglers, foreign exchange offenders and traffickers in narcotics, proceedings for forfeiture of property have been marked by shortcomings and procedural delays
  2. Laws like Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1976, have not exactly been a success
  3. Experience has shown that disposal of confiscated assets is not easy, especially at a price sufficient to recoup losses or pay off all creditors

How new bill overcomes these shortcomings?

  1. The bill provides a fresh legal framework that would enable the confiscation of the property of those evading prosecution by fleeing the country or remaining abroad
  2. Under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, confiscation is not limited to the proceeds of crime and extends to any asset owned by an offender, including benami property
  3. But, such clauses are liable for a legal challenge, especially if there are third party interests and doubts about real ownership

Forfeiture not linked to criminal conviction

  1. The government has justified not linking the forfeiture clause to criminal conviction
  2. It has been citing the principle enshrined in the UN Convention Against Corruption, which India ratified in 2011
  3. The convention envisages domestic laws for confiscation of property without a criminal conviction
  4. This is in cases in which the offenders cannot be prosecuted for reasons of death, flight or absence

Way forward

  1. While the utility and effectiveness of laws are best assessed in the implementation, it is important to ensure they are fair and reasonable
  2. The shortcomings in previous laws must be avoided, and the new legal regime impartially enforced
Mar, 03, 2018

The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Functions & responsibilities of the Union & the States

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017

Mains level: Economic frauds in India and measures taken to prevent them


Context

Concerns over fugitive economic offenders

  1. Finance Minister had announced in last year’s Union Budget that the government would soon bring about a law that would allow the state to take possession of properties belonging to such offenders
  2. After the PNB fraud came into light, the Union Cabinet has approved the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017

What is the Bill?

  1. The Bill aims to stop economic offenders who leave the country to avoid due process
  2. Offenses involving amounts of ₹100 crore or more fall under the purview of this law

What are economic offenses?

  1. Economic offences are those that are defined under the Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Corruption Act, the SEBI Act, the Customs Act, the Companies Act, Limited Liability Partnership Act, and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

Who is a ‘fugitive economic offender’?

  1. According to Section 4 of the law, a ‘fugitive economic offender’ is “any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a scheduled offence has been issued by any court in India, who:

    (i) leaves or has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or

    (ii) refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.”

How is a person declared an offender?

  1. A Director, appointed by the central government, will have to file an application to a Special Court to declare a person as a ‘fugitive economic offender’
  2. The Director has the power to attach any property the accused holds

What does the offender have to do?

  1. The Court will issue a notice to the person named a ‘fugitive economic offender’
  2. Within six weeks from the date of the notice, the person will have to present themselves at “a specified place at a specified time”
  3. If the offender fails to do so, they will be declared a ‘fugitive economic offender’ and their properties as listed in the Director’s application will be confiscated

Once the property is confiscated, can the offender file a civil claim?

  1. Section 11 of the Act disqualifies those declared as offenders from either filing or defending a civil claim in court

What happens to the properties?

  1. The Special court will appoint an ‘administrator’ to oversee the confiscated property
  2. This person will be responsible for disposing of the property as well, and the property will be used to satisfy creditors’ claims
Feb, 27, 2018

Delhi high court designates two special courts to try MPs, MLAs

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PIL

Mains level: Very important decision by the high court.


News

Decision of the Delhi High Court

  1. The Delhi high court has designated two “special courts” in the Patiala House Court complex to deal with criminal cases against elected MPs and MLAs from 1 March

HC’s direction

  1. The high court directed that all cases against members of Parliament and members of legislative assemblies that are pending in various courts shall be transferred to the two special courts
  2. All matters before the special courts would be fast-tracked and disposed of within a year

Background

  1. The SC had directed the centre to set up special fast-track courts to deal with cases pending against legislators, in a public interest litigation (PIL)
  2. The PIL had sought a life-long ban on convicted persons from forming a political party or becoming political office-bearers
  3. The court gave the centre six weeks to submit its proposal along with costs
  4. The centre’s scheme to set up 12 such courts to dispose of 1,581 criminal cases pending against central and state lawmakers was accepted by the apex court on 14 December 2017
  5. According to the affidavit submitted by the centre before the Supreme Court, the cost of setting up these courts was Rs65 lakh each
Feb, 23, 2018

‘Perceived corruption’ list ranks India at 81 among 180

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Citizens charters, transparency & accountability & institutional & other measures

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Corruption Perception Index, Transparency International

Mains level: Measures taken to curb corruption and their success


News

Corruption Perception Index

  1. India has been ranked at 81st place out of 180 countries on a ‘Corruption Perception Index’
  2. The index is released by Transparency International
  3. India’s ranking is worse than those of China and Bhutan but better than those of Pakistan and Bangladesh

About the index

  1. The index ranks the countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople
  2. It uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean

Best and worst countries in terms of less corruption

  1. New Zealand and Denmark top the list, while Syria, South Sudan and Somalia are at the bottom
Nov, 26, 2016

[op-ed snap] Ombudsman Bill gathering dust in the closet

  1. Background: SC criticizes Union government for delaying the appointment of a Lokpal
  2. A timely message, that efforts to cleanse the economy must be matched by equally strong measures to cleanse public life too
  3. No explanation for the failure to establish an institution even three years after passing the relevant law
  4. Reason for the delay: A minor amendment to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 pending
  5. To enable leader of the largest party in opposition in LS to join the five-member selection committee, is yet to be passed
  6. Law provides for a five-member panel to select the anti-corruption ombudsman
  7. 5 members: comprising PM, the LS Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist
  8. The hitch is that there is no recognised LoP in the lower House
  9. Speaker can recognise LoP, only the leader of the principal opposition party that has 10% of the total number of LS seats
Sep, 12, 2016

Protect honest officers, IAS delegation urges Centre

  1. Review: The delegation urged Govt to review some of the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
  2. Why? To ensure that ‘honest and sincere officers’ are not made scapegoats for ‘bona fide’ decisions taken in public interest
  3. Context: Recent suspension of a senior officer in the Home Ministry following the renewal of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act license to Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF)
  4. Such moves by the government would send a wrong signal, demoralising others who take decisions in public interest in good faith
  5. Discuss the utility of Section 13(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 to ensure probity in civil services. Do you think there is a need to amend this section to help bureaucrats to function fearlessly?
Aug, 13, 2016

Bring corporate corruption under anti-graft law: Parliamentary panel- II

  1. Shield for public servants: A mandatory conditions for probe agencies like CBI to take previous approval of competent authority before conducting any enquiry or investigation against a public servant–including from peon to Secretary
  2. However, such approval will not be necessary for cases involving arrest of a person on the spot on the charge of accepting or attempting to accept any undue advantage for himself or for any other person
  3. Time-bound: Trial of corruption cases within two years time
Aug, 13, 2016

Bring corporate corruption under anti-graft law: Parliamentary panel- I

  1. Context: The report of the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha on the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013
  2. Private sector: In a first, the Committee has recommended criminalising private sector bribery by bringing in corporates and their executives in the ambit of proposed anti-corruption law
  3. Also recommended a maximum jail term of seven years along with fine & punishment for bribe givers too
  4. At present: No law in the country that covers corruption in the private sector or criminalises bribe giving
  5. NGOs excluded: The panel has not agreed with the Govt’s proposal to include NGOs in the jurisdiction of a proposed anti-corruption law and exempted charitable services from it
Jan, 28, 2016

India ranks 76 in Corruption Perception Index

The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world.

  1. The Transparency International (TI) has put India at rank 76 out of 168 countries in its latest Corruption Perception Index.
  2. The country’s 2015 corruption perception score remains the same as last year’s, showing lack of improvement.
  3. China fared worse than India and Brazil at rank 83 and Pakistan improved its score this year, though its rank remains poor at 117.
  4. Nordic countries– Denmark, Finland and Sweden topped the chart with their clean public sectors as in previous years.
Jan, 13, 2016

Nuts and bolts / institution building

The Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta controversy highlights the need for greater attention to anti-corruption systems and processes.

  1. Anti-corruption institutions are not magic wands that can be waved at will.
  2. They are no better than their processes and procedures, and they will falter unless the nuts and bolts are of good quality and kept in good repair.
  3. Lokpal movement, which foregrounded the issue of corruption in the national imagination, had a pronounced moralistic streak that, among other things, caused it to distrust and skirt systems and structures.
  4. The entire system was corrupt, it suggested, and therefore, the anti-corruption authority had to exist outside it.
  5. Insufficient clarity about the institutions, systems and protocols that are expected to drive the change is bound to derail it.
  6. In UP selection of Lokayukta, a miasma of ad hoc-ness and arbitrariness suffocated the process.
  7. It could flourish only because the nuts and bolts of the selection procedure of the Lokayukta — the first step towards building the institution — were insufficiently considered.
Jan, 07, 2016

SC wants interim mechanism to protect whistleblowers

  1. SC has noted that whistleblowers who raise their voice against corruption in govt. need to be protected.
  2. The apex court wants Centre to create a interim mechanism for dealing with complaints of whistleblowers and their safety.
  3. The interim mechanism will be in place till a law is enacted in Parliament.
  4. The bill has been passed by the LS and there is a demand to send it to the Select Committee of the RS.
Dec, 08, 2015

Anti-corruption bill sent to select committee

  1. The RS referred the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, to a Select Committee after objections over certain clauses.
  2. They pointed to an overlap with the provisions of the Lokpal Act and sought greater clarity.
  3. The long-pending Bill provides for more stringent punishment for bribery, both for the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker.
  4. The Bill also seeks to increase penalty for corruption to a maximum of 7 years from 5 years currently.
Oct, 20, 2015

Walmart paid millions of dollars in bribes in India: report

 

  1. America’s multinational retail corporation Walmart is suspected to have paid bribes worth millions of dollars.
  2. To help move goods through customs or obtain real-estate permits.
  3. Walmart’s massive bribery efforts is unlikely to bring in any penalty on it.
  4. As its Indian operation does not yield any profit under the provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act</strong> (FCPA) of the US.
  5. Penalties under the FCPA, connected to the amount of profit the alleged misconduct generated, the payments in India wouldn’t be likely to result in any sizable penalty.

 

May, 05, 2015

Leniency for corrupt officials will weaken judiciary: SC

  1. The penological philosophy behind punishment for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 – There is no room for sympathy or leniency towards a public servant convicted of corruption.
  2. Misplaced sympathy or unwarranted leniency will send a wrong signal to the public, giving room to suspect institutional integrity.
  3. The 1988 Act was amended last year to increase the punishment for corruption.
  4. Min punishment was raised from 6 months to 3 years.
May, 02, 2015

[op-ed snap] Amending the law against corruption

Some amendments fail to address key issues in corruption jurisprudence.

  1. In 2013, the bill proposed to extend the protection of prior sanction for prosecuting public servants to former officials as well.
  2. The ostensible reason was that Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure protected retired officials, while the PCA covered only serving officials.
  3. But the sanction provision ought to have been restricted to prosecutions that flow from deviations from public policy, laws and regulations.
  4. Possessing unexplained assets, being caught red-handed while taking a bribe and misappropriating property cannot be actions in the course of official functions.
  5. A distinction ought to have been made between collusive bribery and bribery under coercion.
  6. Some +ive features – The trial court itself can now deal with the process of attachment of property instead of the district court.
  7. Fixing a time frame for grant of sanction and completion of trial is a welcome feature.
May, 01, 2015

Changes in Act will make graft ‘heinous crime’

  1. The Union Cabinet approved amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  2. Amendments provide for classifying corruption as a heinous crime and longer prison terms for both bribe-giver and bribe- taker.
  3. The proposed amendment will also ensure a speedy trial, within two years, for corruption cases.
  4. This will also help in meeting the country’s obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption more effectively
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