Social activist Anna Hazare, has rightly raised a storm against corruption, which has become widespread and shows no sign of abating. The Government has agreed to his demand of having on board his representatives for the drafting of a strong Lok Pal Bill. In fact, both sides have legal luminaries as the members. As the experience of bills drafted by the Government shows, they leave sufficient loopholes for the guilty to escape in the name of fair play, human rights and equity, as if the victims do not have any rights.
A brief needs to be given to the members from civil society based on their concerns and suggestions about the methodology of fighting corruption and what should be their demands. Simply trusting Panel Members nominated by Hazare to come out with their own prescription of fighting corruption would not do.
Seeing corruption trials in courts is entirely a different matter than from eradicating it. Even the passing of the Lok Pal Bill would not solve the problem of eradicating corruption, unless the wherewith all for fighting the corruption, like the increase in the strength of the judiciary and the investigating agency, seizure of illegal assets during the investigation itself, enhancement of the budget and manpower, is also included as a total part of the package. Otherwise, it would be just like the Preamble to the Constitution or like the Right to Education, without teachers and without any blackboards or roofs on the schools.
Indeed a stage has come where the Government is reluctant to wage any war against the corrupt or corruption, as can be seen from the Supreme Court Monitored 2 G Scam or Adarsh or CWG Games scam. Let not the institution of Lok Pal be another toothless tiger.
The possession of assets beyond known means of income is a criminal offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The law should be changed to put onus on the accused that whatever he possesses or owns is honestly acquired. There have been hardly any cases, except in Bihar or one or two other States, where illegally acquired assets have been seized.
The investigating agency should be authorised to seize all property, illegally acquired on the filing of the chargesheet. The strength of criminal justice system should be increased so that no case takes more than six months in any court of law, as against present 10 to 30 years.
In the present law, both the giver and receiver of bribes are guilty of the crime. This is a skewed law because if both are guilty, then who will give evidence. Anti corruption agencies freely lay trap with the help of the decoys, as givers of bribe, to catch such elements. The law should be changed, only the receiver of illegal gratification should be charged with the crime. It is common sense that nobody willingly bribes, which most often, is extorted.
The Government should exercise its right of denying or withdrawing the statutory sanction to prosecute public servants despite the evidence gathered against them by the investigating agency. This could prove to be one of the sticking points as the Government would be loath to give up the much-abused power to block prosecution.
The right to sting operations should be legalised both for the public and media, so that they can expose such elements. A percentage of illegal property of the corrupt public servants, say a minimum of 50 % should be given as a reward to the person exposing corruption. The steps may appear draconian, but serious diseases require surgical operations.
The indignation over corruption, is appropriate, as we are the 87 th most corrupt country in the world, with an integrity score of 33 out of 100, as per the 2010 report of Transparency International.
The Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd. Hongkong has rated India, in 2011 at 8.67 on a scale of zero to 10 with the high end being the worst case of corruption scenario and ahead of the Philippines (8.9 points), Indonesia (9.25 points) and Cambodia (9.27 points).
It is more than overdue for the Government to take this issue seriously, for which the minimum punishment should be life sentence with no remission and maximum death for looting the country and the country men.