Published On: Thu, Apr 30th, 2015

No shield for graft, but bureaucrats need protection in case of honest error

New Delhi: There should be no shield against probing corrupt government officials, but civil servants need to be protected from penalisation in case of honest errors, some former bureaucrats on Thursday said while hailing the proposed amendments in the anti-corruption law approved by the Centre.

PM Narendra Modi

PM Narendra Modi

“It is a very positive step. But there is a need to take many more steps to check corruption in India. Political corruption also needs to be checked,” former Cabinet Secretary, TSR Subramanian, told PTI. He said there has to be some protection for civil servants for making bona fide mistakes.

“There must be a senior officer in an investigating agency to decide whether or not a decision was taken in good faith. It should not be left to a junior official to decide on a particular case.

“One should not judge a civil servant on the basis of whether a decision is right or wrong, but on the basis of the documents or the information available to him as he took that decision,” Subramanian said.

There should be no shield for an official in case of corruption. If an officer is found to own assets more than his known sources of income or hold benami property, then there should be no shield, the former bureaucrat said.

He was commenting on Wednesday’s Union Cabinet decision to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, by incorporating stringent penal provisions in it.

“It is a welcome a step. But it has to be seen that these provisions, after they become part of law, are implemented in letter and spirit,” said former Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), PJ Thomas. Legal experts also said they feel that the proposed changes will help in checking corruption in the country.

“This will go a long way towards bringing the fear of law with respect to corrupt practices in the country. In public dealings, some babus extort money by unnecessarily delaying the work or raising trivial doubts. But, with these amendments, corruption will be curbed,” said senior Supreme Court lawyer G Venkatesh Rao.

Noting that corruption is taken very seriously across the globe, Rao said, “I feel that the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which has been ratified by India, must be followed in toto to check the menace.”


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