Saturday, September 30, 2023

Anti-Corruption Law: Make In Haste, Repent At Leisure

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In a report published in the Times of India of date, it is reported how senior bureaucrats have represented to the PM that they are afraid to take decisions as present anti-corruption law makes them vulnerable to harassment afterwards.

It is the story of most laws that are now passed in India. They are framed in haste, are framed by those who have no experience of how the real world functions, are badly drafted and badly worded. We have seen how laws on Environment protection have led to a lockdown on industrialisation of India.

Anti-corruption law was framed by a political class in panic after some self-appointed guardians of honesty in India used raging scams to threaten it with anarchy. It should be thoroughly recast by some mature minds with experience of how government actually functions.

” Bureaucrats have campaigned for amendment in the Prevention of Corruption Act on the ground that the law leaves them vulnerable to the risk of being prosecuted for even such decisions which could be fully above board. They say that while it is only natural that any decision or a contract awarded will benefit someone, and adversely impact others, the Prevention of Corruption Act puts the onus on the bureaucrat to prove s/he acted in public interest. The final decision is taken by the investigating officer or the courts and, in both cases, after a long drawn-out process.

Senior officers told TOI that the issue impacts not just bureaucrats but even ministers and businessmen who gain from a decision taken by the government.

“This is the most draconian provision in any such law anywhere in the world. This is something that was inserted in 1988 and even those who had written the law have later regretted incorporating the provisions. It has affected decision-making at all levels as people fear that they may be hauled up later,” said a secretary in an economic ministry.

After some retired bureaucrats were charged with corruption, senior officers have shied away from taking controversial decisions resulting in policy paralysis, especially during the UPA regime. Although decisions have been taken in recent months, bureaucrats have tended to be cautious.

On Monday, Jaitley had told an industry gathering that the government was considering amendments to the anti-corruption law. “The Law Commission has sent its recommendations that in the changed environment, it (Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988) requires a relook. Therefore, a large number of criminal cases, both against industry and decision-makers, which have recently in the last few years disrupted the economic and business environment of this country require to be seriously addressed by looking at the language of the Act,” Jaitley had said.” (from the news report)

Read the news report here.
And to know how we can actually eradicate corruption, read Anang Pal Malik’s book Corruption In India. To download your free copy, go here.


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