SC's slap on UPA's face: Decide on graft trials in 3 months

It will help win the war against corruption: Swamy

prasanna

Prasanna Mohanty | January 31, 2012




The fight against corruption got a boost with the supreme court asking the government to give timely sanction for prosecution of the corrupt public servants.

The court set a deadline of three months within which such decisions have to be taken. In case the government failed to take a decision for four months, sanction would be 'deemed' to have been given. The court asked the governemnt to amend clause 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which provides for government's prior permission to prosecute public servants for corruption and observed that the right to file a complaint  under the said law was "a constitutional right".

Read the PTI report: Swamy right in seeking PM's nod for Raja's prosecution: SC

Also see : SC obesrvation no setback says govt

The directive came on a petition of Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy. He had originally sought a direction against the prime minister’s office (PMO) for failing to sanction prosecution of the then telecom minister A Raja in 2010 in connection with the 2G scam. But that petition became infructuous after Raja resigned later. Swamy then asked the court to frame suitable guidelines to prevent such prevarications.

A bench of GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly, who had heard the case and had reserved the order, didn’t take the government’s delaying tactics kindly and asked for a time-bound decision making process.

It is no secret that the biggest handicap in our fight against corruption is the provision in the Prevention of Corruption Act which requires prior permission of the government to prosecute public servants. The government often uses this power to sit over or deny sanction.

In fact, a study by the Asian Centre for Human Rights, which was released in August 2011, had shown that the government had refused sanction in more than 98 percent of corruption cases registered by the apex anti-corruption watchdog, CVC, between 1996 and 2009. In all, CVC had registered 77,925 cases of corruption against senior bureaucrats, but prosecution sanction was given only in 1,348 cases.

Today’s supreme court order will help overcoming this kind of problems that undermine the entire anti-corruption mechanism. In fact, this power to withhold prosecution sanction has made a completely mockery of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Swamy’s may have his personal agenda, but he is right in claiming that the verdict would make it “possible to win the war against corruption”.

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