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Report No. 166

1.3. Deleterious Effect of Corruption.-

One of the essential requirements of good governance is the absence of corruption. But unfortunately, corruption has struck deep-roots in our society, including its administrative apparatus. At every rung of the administration, whether at the Centre or in the States, there are corrupt elements who are causing immense loss to the state, to the Nation and the public interest. The administrative apparatus of local authorities, public-sector corporations and Government companies has become equally bad. When a public servant is paid bribe of, say, a lakh of rupees, it is paid for the reason that the payer gets at least 10 times the benefit, if not more, and that benefit is the loss of the State and the people.

It is not so much the amount of the bribe but the quantum of loss to the people and the moral degradation it involves that is more relevant. There is no respect for public money and public funds in the minds of many in the administration; public money is nobody's money. For a small personal benefit, the corrupt are prepared to cause any amount of loss to the State and to the people. On account of corruption, many of the welfare schemes including schemes for advancement of Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections are not able to achieve the intended results.

In fact, a former Prime Minister had observed once that only about 16% of the funds meant for the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes reached them and that the remaining 84% was absorbed by the members of the administrative apparatus, politicians and other middlemen. A state has arrived where the corruption is threatening the very security and safety of the State. There is corruption in execution of projects, in awarding contracts, in making purchases, in issuance of licences and permits, in appointments, in elections and so on and so forth. There is hardly any sphere of life left untouched by corruption in our society. Surprisingly - or rather shockingly - the corrupt elements have lost all sense of shame and guilt.

The societal sanction is practically nil. The corrupt elements are brazenly flaunting their ill-gotten wealth. The amounts involved in corruption are quite often astronomical. There are numerous foreign forces out to destabilise our country and undermine our economy and the corrupt elements in our governing structure are too willing to play their game for their personal gain. Thus corruption in our country today is not only immoral and shameful, it has also become anti-national and anti-social and therefore requires to be dealt with an iron hand. The Prevention of Corruption Act has totally failed in checking the corruption.

In spite of the fact that India is rated as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, the number of prosecutions - and more so the number of convictions under the said Act, are ridiculously low. A corrupt minister or a corrupt top public servant is hardly ever prosecuted under the Act and even in the rare event of his being prosecuted, the prosecution hardly ever reaches conclusions. At every stage, these will be revisions and writs to stall and defeat the prosecution. Top lawyers are engaged. Some or other point is raised and the litigation goes on endlessly, thus defeating the true objective of the criminal prosecution.

Unfortunately, the Courts too have come to attach more sanctity to procedure forgetting the principle underlying sections 460 to 465 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, viz., any and every infraction of procedural provision does not vitiate the final order passed and that only that violation which causes prejudice may constitute a ground for disturbing the final order passed. Indeed it must be said that criminal judicial system in this country has proved totally ineffective particularly against the rich, the influential and the powerful. It is effective, if at all, only against the poor, the destitute and the undefended. We do not, however, think it necessary to stress any further the prevalence and pernicious role of corruption in our body politic as it is an obvious and indisputable fact.



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