Shadow boxing over corruption
Posted September 21, 2009on:
The Prime Minister says that corruption at high levels needs to be tackled. The Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta says the people are not much concerned with corruption at higher levels. Both appear to be off the mark.
Manmohan Singh last month urged the CBI and anti-corruption agencies of the States to go “aggressively” after “high level corruption” to change the public perception that “petty cases get tackled quickly but the big fish escape punishment”. Addressing the officials from the CBI and anti-corruption bureaus from the States, he said, “Rapid, fair and accurate investigation of allegations of corruption in high places should remain your utmost priority. The nation expects you to act firmly, swiftly and without fear or favour”.
Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta Prakash Prabhakar Naolekar, who is a retired Supreme Court judge, said in an interview to a newspaper early this month that corruption at high levels affected only the companies and the influential people while aam aadmi was not much concerned with that. He said while he was yet to go into the complaints against ministers and senior bureaucrats, his priority was for immediate action when there was a complaint against a patwari.
How did the Prime Minister expect the policemen to become honest and upright overnight? Those who join the police force at whatever level grow in corruption (with exceptions, though not very high) under the patronage of their political bosses (irrespective of their party affiliations). Any number of cases can be cited to show how the police officers have been rewarded for turning a blind eye to the illegal activities of those loyal to the party in power and the police officers who have tried to stick to law have been sidelined and even punished. More than five years in office, Manmohan Singh has not taken any initiative to make the police force people-friendly by scrapping the mde-in-Britain Police Act of 1861 and enacting a new law suited to a welfare State.
Justice Prakash Prabhakar Naolekar has virtually put his foot in his mouth by making the absurd observation. He assumed office in the last week of June. After his swearing-in by the Governor at Raj Bhavan, he drove to the Lokayukta Office and within the hour he had called for the file pertaining to former Advocate-General Ravi Nandan Singh who has been accused of illegally adding to his property. How many of the people are concerned with the action of Ravi Nandan Singh so that it needed to be taken up at the topmost priority, the Lokayukta has not explained. All that one knows is that Naolekar and Singh are old friends and Singh (then Advocate-General) was instrumental in Naolekar’s appointment as Lokayukta on Ripusudan Dayal’s retirement.
Naolekar has apparently conveyed that he may not be interested in investigating the corruption complaints against the chief minister and other ministers because the people are, according to him, not concerned with the corruption at that level. When the chief minister hands over mines without consulting the farmers who own the land to a cement factory and unleashes his trigger-happy police on the farmers when they protest, Naolekar may like everybody to believe that this is not a matter of much public concern. Nor is it a matter of concern to the people, going by the Lokayukta’s axiom, if the health minister and the director of health services pocket hundreds of crores of rupees earmarked for purchase of medicines for the government hospitals and dispensaries.