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Talk on Corruption - Justice Hegde

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26 Mar 2011 10:30
Asia/Calcutta
Governance

 Date :  March 26, 2011

Time :  10:30 AM

Venue: Bharateeya Vidya Bhavan, Race cource Road

Topic  : Corruption

Speaker : Santosh Hegde

The start time is 10:30 / 11:00

Likely duration 1hr 30Min

Comments

kbsyed61's picture

If you can't power Karnataka LA ?

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dvsquare,

I understand the sympathies for toothless Karnataka LA, but why is Jutice Hegde being part fo the toothless institute for more than 4-5 years, is still silent on any reform for LA? He is vocal on central govt on it foot dragging for any tangible steps for confronting corruption? He has all the solutions for Lok Pal, but kind of silent on LA. Right thing for Justice Hegde would have been to publish a white paper on  current state of LA Institute? Make it public so that public knows how GOK is stonewalling the efforts to bring corrupt officers to book. I am still holidng my breadth to see his report on Mining.

My cynicism is if you can't get GOK to fall in line, how are you going to convince GOI to toe your line when they have more able, shrewd politicians than BSY?

 

silkboard's picture

didn't get it IDS

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Tahsildar asking for a bribe - don't know how that is not corruption. denial of service is almost always linked to corruption (follows a denial). A Raja denying service to a business (and preferring other), and Tahsildar not approving survey for your land (but doing so for his friend who would oblige) - both look the same for me.

Ignorance for "common man" shows in this fascination with "big scams", and big names . Nitish Kumar's push for Right to Service act is worthy of more coverage than Lokpal bill. I want a "Lok"ayukta, not Sarkara-auykta, if that makes sense.

One last try - see it this way. Say I call Lokayukta's office to complain about this corrupt tahsildar. A day later, Lokayukta starts chasing a minister. Would I have the right to expect a "first come first serve"? Or should a Lokayukta or Lokpal sort his priorities by the size of the "scam" reported to him?

However big the 2G scam is or might be, I am more interested in seeing my Tahslidars, Local cops, BESCOM engineers in jail first.

Well anyways. Good discussion though. Lets watch how the LA/LP bills evolve. For all you know, they may get big time into denial-of-service/information aspects via this bill itself.

sanjayv's picture

Tackle from the top or tackle from the bottom

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SB raises an interesting question.  If one were to tackle corruption, where to begin, or priortize?  Should we tackle from the top or tackle from the bottom?  I personally am inclined to tackle from the top.  Reason is that a lot of the push for corruption comes from the top.  A local cop taking money or a bus conductor not giving ticket / change is not a case where the perpetrator pockets the entire amount.  What we hae is a mafia system where the money is handed up the chain of sommand and booty shared.  Bus conductor pays the depot manager.  Utility engineers pay into the organizations bribe pool. The organizations are structured (for checks and balances) that much of the corruption is not possible without the connivance of many.

There is a system of incentives built up for corruption.  It reminds me of what a fairly active enthusiastic sub inspector told my close friend.  He said he is honest because he did not shell out money to get recruited.  Fix it at the top and I think it should percolate down.  Add some legislation for electoral reform, right to service and basic judicial and police reform and implement them.  There should be a change for the better.  A huge current problem is that there are no consequences for any type of action.

 

idontspam's picture

Or should a Lokayukta or

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Or should a Lokayukta or Lokpal sort his priorities by the size of the "scam" reported to him?

Whichever one he tackles first or last, he doesnt have the powers to prosecute & make him pay for his crime. So all the investigation he will do will be paperwork. Esentially useless. This is the "teeth" part. This is the subject of discussion & agitation & negotiation. Nothing will work unless the water in the source is stopped before getting to fixing the plumbing hardware

dvsquare's picture

Mr. Syed, I am a little

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Mr. Syed,

I am a little optimistic when I see some things moving even just a step. Whenver I see Hegde speaking or writing, I see some hope there. May be, he hasn't get involved in writing any whitepaper or reforming the current lokayukta, may be because, it is something which needs a huge public support and its better to be doable on national level and then come down to every state automatically. Atleast he has started showing the corruption in GoK, Babu's in govt offices, and letting people know of all that, I hope people will take a conscious decisions in next elections. I am not sure how much of what I said make sense, but I feel, Hegde is a honest person and also a authoritative person if given the powers, and hope to get culprits will be brought to public's notice on mining report.

And, also we can't expect him to do all the things on the day-1, if he is doing some good work, let him take his pace.

Deepak

dvsquare's picture

Tackle from top is the right way

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Because, if you see, every systematic corrupt system has its root at the top, if you go for the passport verification, you can't get it done without shelling out some money, otherwise your passport goes missing or verification can be rejected or anything like that. And whatever you pay, there is a proper bribe distribution system which makes sure that everyone on the ladder get its part.

If you are taking a new house in Bangalore in a apartment, and you want to get it registered, the builder clearly says to pay (some money around 14k) to bribe the officials to get the registration done. For every house they eat 14k, and that gets evenly distributed from the watchman/security to the Top level official and the Ministers.

Even if a person at the bottom, he doesn't want to get the bribe, he wants to work honestly, he can't, in such cases he also has to eat up to make sure the bribe-chain doesn't get broken.

Deepak

silkboard's picture

top/bottom doesn't matter - "service" focus

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sanjayv, dvs - top bottom etc is irrelevant. The focus MUST be on services. Currently, the focus seems to be on the size - "big" people, "big" scams. Good, not complaining, but not good enough to make a difference in my daily life.

Criticism of Justice Hegde (the individual) would be absolutely unfair. However, his office has had the "teeth" to prosecute people below certain level. Their record on chasing down "small" people - not sure how good that is. At least as per an RTI filed over an year ago, very few (I think 7 or 8) of the 67 or so cases they detailed had reached a state where LA was stuck due to a delay in sanction to prosecute.

And from what we see in the media - attention today is "size", not "service".

Bottomline, - we need a "Right to Service Act" (RSA). RSA, powerful RTI, and these LA/LP bills - this is the minimum set required to make a dent on this disease. RTI is half done, LA/LP is underway, and the talk has sort of begun on RSA.

Remember that the lokayukta bills were drafted with larger purpose. All but one of them seem to have been forgotten. Refer the opening lines of the Karnataka LA act:

The Administrative Reforms Commission had recommended the setting up of the institution of Lokayukta for the purpose of appointment of Lokayukta at the state's level , to improve the standards of public administration, by looking into complaints against the administrative actions, including cases of corruption, favouritism and official indiscipline in administrative machinery.

The bill provides for the appointment of a Lokayukta and one or more Upalokayuktas to investigate and report on allegations or grievances relating to the conduct of public servants.

The original authors understood the focus that this bill needed, they certainly knew the real "ground needs". Trust and hope the new authors would do the same.

sanjayv's picture

Services... services...

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The focus MUST be on services.

Not denying that services are important.  The Right to Service bill is a great idea as long as there is the will to implement it.  That of course is the story of any law that is passed.  In the current situation, I think that is where an independent, empowered LP/LA is required.

 

As for the focus on big stuff - that is the nature of modern televbision and news media. Easier to hype the big stuff.  Big stuff is absolutely also important,  Money wasted/lost on much of this big stuff is money that could have been used elsewhere.

Finallhy, the most important change is going to be electoral refrom and involvement of the educated class in elections,  The current system and money flying around is the root cause of much of the evil going around.

dvsquare's picture

Its a loop altogether

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Looking at the huge scams figures, its pretty evident that they are even more than the education budget of India. Government even gets some money out of that education budget to reward the Worldcup winners, and then from the remaining, the implementors try to eat a lot and the remainings which would be only 5-10% goes to actual needy people. So, until the common man doesn't get educated, he doesn't get aware and educate-literate enough to think about his good and bad and also to buy his and his family's meals, he can't do justice to the voting process and result is these corrupt Leaders getting elected on the basis of what the freebies they are offering during election or after elections. These elected corrupts will again go to parliament and do the scams and make sure that the uneducated remains uneducated and non-aware and they keep making use of these sitations. You see a closed loop here.

A popular tweet by a person about TN elections -

" Today, every citizen of Tamil Nadu has to make a very important decision. In the next five years, do I want a TV? Or laptop?"

Yes, that was the driving factor, and you see the voting percentage so high, never saw that much voting percentage in my lifetime in India. I don't see that is the result of the awareness but that is the pure bribery to the common-man's mind.

Deepak

idontspam's picture

One of the suggestions I made

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One of the suggestions I made is that the Lokpal Act should be uniform and its powers applicable in all states so that the lokayuktas are equally empowered to tackle the menace, as about 90 percent of the graft incidents occur at the ground level, be it in the local body, district offices and state capitals

 But having been an ombudsman over the last four years, I have not been able to check corruption and maladministration in the absence of adequate powers envisaged in the Jan Lokpal bill

Source

To all those who believe Lokpal bypasses constitution democratic process etc.. etc..

We cannot stop the affected person from taking to legal course against the lokpal ruling even if he or she is held guilty of the offence though it would be ideal. But we are governed by the constitution, which empowers every citizen to defend from being framed, accused or convicted

murali772's picture

addressing concerns

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It has been said that this would create a super-cop with enormous powers and no accountability. There is a misconception that the proposed Lokpal will have judicial powers; there is no such provision in the bill.

For the full text of the article in The Hindu by Mr Prashant Bhushan himself addressing concerns on the scope of Jan LokPal Bill, click here

Muralidhar Rao
sanjayv's picture

Short coming of Jan Lokpal bill

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One thing I dio not understand from Mr, Bhushan's editorial and reading the Jan Lokpal bill draft - if LP is a prosecutorial agency, where is the provision for stocking the organization with some top notch prosecutors.  Not sufficient to have just Lokpal police.

silkboard's picture

thoughts are on track, nothing to worry!

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In some newspaper quotes and editorials over last 2-3 days, notice the following

  • Arvind Kejriwal seems to know that focus needs to be on public greivances/redressal. I think he or Mr Bhushan are quoted as saying that they will take up all related things (electoral reforms, improved RTI, Judiciary) one by one.
  • Anna Hazare says he will be chasing electoral reforms next. (yesterday, in Mumbai edition of a newspaper, I think HT)

So these guys do know LA/LP is a start, and will lead us on more things, one by one. Absolutely thrilled to hear that, no reasons to worry.

dvsquare's picture

I second you SB on that, its right

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Things has to get some start and LA/LP is start for the same.

Deepak

murali772's picture

don't say no to politics; usher in good politics

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Many talked about an Egypt type of mass movement against corruption. An Egypt type of agitation is needed when there is no liberty for the people. But democracy has so many inbuilt tools to protect its polity. We don’t have to replicate a Tiananmen Square or Tahrir Square as politics provides us a wonderful platform to bring about change in very swift and decisive moves, without shedding a single drop of blood.

Mahatma once said “politics ensnarls you like the coils of a snake.” What Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Aung San Suu Kyi did was nothing but good politics. Eradicating corruption requires sustained efforts by embracing good politics and not by good people shunning politics.


For the full text of the column by Dr Jaiprakash Narayan (LokSatta) in the Deccan Herald, click here.

 

Muralidhar Rao
kbsyed61's picture

A legal perspective of Jan Lok Pal Bill Justice A P Singh!

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"...The Lokpal in effect will be the investigator, prosecutor and enforcer of its will. When coupled with the powers to punish for contempt and in the absence of an appellate body the draft bill in fact creates a gigantic institution that draws its powers from a statute that is based on questionable principles. .."

For more Read - "A gigantic institution that draws powers from a statute based on questionable principles’

Courtesy - Indian Express

 

 

sanjayv's picture

An Excellent Critique

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The article by Justice Shah is an excellent critique of the Jan Lokpal bill.  One wishes that instead of clamouring for various civil society members to be part of the drafting committee, the insistence be for public debates on various drafts and features.  Instead of a 100 member drafting committee, I would like to see more debates like this along with constructive suggestions.  The goal - tackle corruption. 

First question - Considering the rampant rot in almost all our institutions,  do we form an independent ombudsman such as the Lok Pal (as one of the steps, not a magic pill)?  Recommendations in the past have been yes - so worth trying.  Assuming agreement to this questions as the base case, the next questions is - how to form this organization within the ambit of our constitution and principles of governance?  Here, Justice Shah has and Mr. Nayak have raised some valid questions. I would like to comment on some of those (as a layman).

Combining investigation and prosecution powers in the Lokpal:

One of the aspects of the current Jan Lokpal bill, in my reading of it, is a lack of clarity on what exactly the lok pal is?  Police, investigator, judge?  Prosecution rates in our country are abbysmal.  For Lokpal to be effective, it is important to have succesful prosecution of the guilty.  My personal, uninformed view is that we need investigations to be oriented from the point of view of prosecution also.  The goal of an investigation of a crime is to establish guilt and subsequently prosecute.  Hence the need for great care in collecting evidence and building an air tight case.  That can only be done if investigation and prosecution are done in close collaboration.  In fact, this is a short coming in our justice system itself, in my humble opinion.  So, how do we enable this?

Vagueness of definitions:

Completely agree.  There is a disturbing vagueness of definition in the bill, with terms such as "Vigilance Angle" which may not even be good english to start with.  That needs to be addressed.  But Nayak and Shah just criticise and do not provide some alternative suggestions.  The key questions to ask here would have been as to the intent of the definitions and how to accomplish it?

Selection committee:

This is one of those painful aspects.  It is nearly impossible to have a perfect selection committee.  Just frame it in order to have some smart heads, as well as clarity and transparency of process.

Appointment of the Lokpal: Clause 8(11) gives a high degree of finality to the list of names recommended by the selection committee for filling up vacancies in the Lokpal. The president is required to only sign on the dotted line.

We once again come to this issue of presidential assent.  If tha tis important, the modification is simple enough.  Only important aspect is to give a firm deadline to the president to execute assent.  Delaying poresidential assent is one way to delay things, especially practised in the case of state government legislation.  It would also be a good idea to describe some key tests for the president to perform before giving assent.

Videographing the selection process:

Intent behind videographing is transparency.  So if the fear is that videographing will limit the open-ness of discussions, then put a time limit on how long the videos are secret before being available for public scrutiny.  In reality, much of the discussions and manouvering will happen outside the formal discussions anyway.

Lokpal fund: The draft bill envisages the creation of a fund into which all penalties and fines imposed by the Lokpal and 10 per cent of the monies confiscated will be deposited.

Nayak and Shah are afraid that parliamentary scrutiny is avoided in this process.  That is simple enough to remedy.  They key aspect here is that for an agency such as lok pal to be succesful, there is need to allot sufficient monies to carry out thorough investigations.  Power without money is useless.  We could have lokpal submit a statement of account to parliament or have an audit by the CAG or maybe ask the lokpal to submit a budget in advance.  Some smart solution can be worked out to this objection.

Power of review over executive decisions: Clauses 8 and 17 turn the Lokpal into a civil court that will reverse the decisions of the executive such as grant of licences, permits, authorisations and even blacklist companies and contractors.

Nayak and Shah are not happy with this provision.  I too agree that this aspect is a bit iffy.  But one of the pain points in our existing system is clear directives by ombudsman type agencies being ignored.  Do they have a suggestion on how to remedy that in a fashion that they are satisfied?

Extraordinary powers of the Lokpal: The draft bill seeks to vest enormous powers in the Lokpal such as telephone tapping, issue of letters rogatory, confiscation of property for making false assets statements, etc. While these powers may be necessary for tackling corruption, there must be adequate checks and balances to prevent their misuse.

Another case of a critique and no competing recommendation.  The authors agree that such powers may be necessary, but argue that checks and balances are required.  So how would they go about it?

I get a little tired of these preachy criticisms that do not take the next step and go to the root intent and a solution that works for the same.  But debate is good.  let there be more and more of it.

kbsyed61's picture

Let the debate continue!

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Indian express - Let the debate rage

"...Should anti-corruption procedures be the end that justify the means, no matter how severely they undercut the basic provisions of our constitutional democracy? Or should our constitutional democracy be strengthened, a process that cannot but proceed without fortifying mechanisms of accountability and transparency? The question is important, because as our columnist, Justice Mukul Mudgal, points out: “The checks and balances in a functioning and dynamic democracy cannot be rigidly demarcated but have to change occasionally to restore the effectuation of the legislative mandate which is the bulwark of a constitutional democracy.” This balance, in the pursuit of integrity, is attained by adherence to the constitutional framework of separation of powers and checks and balances so that there is no over-reach.

Fidelity to the constitutional framework is not an academic pursuit for its own sake: it is essential to guarantee our basic liberties, liberties that allow each one of us to be free individuals and to maintain the right to demand integrity from our legislatures and administrations..."

sanjayv's picture

What is the point of the editorial?

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What is the point of the Indian Express editorial?  I would much rather people talk about a path forward rather than preaching about constitutional principles and about some vague people who are holding the present jan lokpal bill as sacrosanct. Who are these myhsterious people?

The point is how to tackle corruption.  Are they saying a lokpal bill is not the way to go?  If so, why cannot they say it in so many words.  if the lokpal bill is the way to go - then how to frame it to make it work?

kbsyed61's picture

Title says it all!

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@sanjayv,

I thought title said it all. The way I understood was that the civil society voices need not be restricted to the nominated 5 members on the JC to draft LP bill. Wider the debate wider the nuances. More questions will be asked and more answers will come up.

As you had rightly observed, debates should be taking place in every nook and corner of the country. It is not enough to have it in metros, TV studios and among English speaking citizens.

Wish the activist who is leading the charge spend their valuable time to fan out to masses in the country and indulge in disseminating the information. Rather than taking potshots at Govt with diatribe like 'Govt intention is doubtful', daily doses of fixing deadlines and threats of agitation, use the available time in engaging with rural folks also . No amount of speaking to English speaking class would do justice to the cause unless the last of the citizen is given a chance to speak his voice.

Time for threats has gone and it is time to consolidate the popular mood of the people and channel it to make it potent force which can't be wished by either the ruling dispensation.

Final point is debates should be held in every possible language that is spoken by the people. Moreover it should be clearly explained to the people how the JLP would help their day-today struggle. Unless that is being told and explain, rest assured we would be losing another opportunity to mobilize the popular mood of the people of this country.

sanjayv's picture

My point is that...

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the editorial is sermonizing (not the Nayak and Shah article, but the editorial).  It uses a lot of words to not say much.  I do not consider it useful debate.  They keep repeating that constitutional democracy should be strengthened without once concrete suggestion or analysis on how to do so.

Agree with most of what you say Syed about widespread debate.  But the debate should be structured, action oriented and constructive.

kbsyed61's picture

Judicial Adjudication process!

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@Sanjayv,

Thanks for your lucid thoughts on the Critique of Justice A P Singh. Also you rightly pointed out the non-clarity on exact role of LP:

what exactly the lok pal is?  Police, investigator, judge?

Certainly LP can not be 3-in-1. Can understand the demand for combining Prosecution and Investigation arms under one authority.  LP certainly can exercise role of investigator and prosecutor. Why?

 The experience of Lok Ayukta in Karnataka is that without the power of prosecution, it is as good as any departmental inquiry. On more than one occasion, the current LA and his team has expressed the shortcoming of Prosecution under LA Act. They have to rely on GOK to initiate the action.

But certainly Judicial Adjudication should be out of the purview of LP or any other authority. It should be carried over under the country's judicial system. Independent judicial process provides the Judges to adjudicate the matter on merit independent of what the LP believes and perceives.

murali772's picture

innovative approach

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A Lokpal is not enough. We need a major overhaul of the police-prosecutor-judicial system. We need self-cleaning systems that automatically reduce corruption in the first place. One such, which i have long advocated, is a law providing that all criminal cases against elected legislators at the state or central level should get judicial priority over all other, and be disposed of within two years.

Today, many crooks enter the legislatures to stall cases they face. But once electoral victory means that their cases automatically get top priority over all others, crooks will keep out of elections altogether--electoral victory will accelerate rather than stall their legal headaches.

We cannot depend on occasional movements of the Jayaprakash Narayan or Anna Hazare sort to check corruption. The Lokpal Bill can be no more than a start towards clean politics. We need radical police-judicial reform and self-cleaning laws.

 

 

For the full text of the column by S A Aiyer in the ToI, click here. An excellent suggestion. Hope it gets incorporated.

Muralidhar Rao

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