Step towards fighting Corruption

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    In a judgment in December 2022 — Neeraj Dutta v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) the Supreme Court came down heavily on corruption among public servants in the country and lowered the bar for the quantum of evidence required to convict persons charged with corruption.

    • On many occasions in the past, the Supreme Court gave equally strong expression to this scourge that afflicts our public administration. 

    Supreme Court’s observations 

    • the Supreme Court debunks the myth that absolute proof of guilt alone can help convict an offender. 
    • The court has now laid down that even if prosecution witnesses turn hostile, a conviction would be in order if all the circumstantial evidence marshalled by the prosecution and produced before the court points unmistakably to the guilt of the accused. 
      • This is a great step towards ensuring integrity in public services, especially in the ‘superior’ services such as the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service.

    About Corruption 

    • Corruption refers to misusing public power for personal gain. It can be done by an elected politician, civil servant, journalist, administrator of a school, or anyone in authority. 
    • The current situation in many States has become so bad that no service to which a citizen is entitled as a fundamental right can be obtained without greasing the palm of someone in the administrative or political hierarchy
      • Jobs are often sold at a price
    • Many applicants are prepared to pay without a complaint as there is acute unemployment.
    •  No approval for the construction of a building or for registration of a property is possible without payment of a bribe. 
      • Several public servants involved in this racket cite illegal and rapacious demands from the political hierarchy as the reason for such bribes. 

    Effects of Corruption 

    • The effects of corruption are far-reaching: it can undermine political, social, and economic stability, and ultimately threaten the safety and security of society as a whole.
    • Corruption creates a fertile ground for organized criminal activities, even terrorism, as criminals are aided in their illegal activities by the complicity of corrupt public officials.
    • Economic globalization has made corruption a borderless crime. 
      • The competitive world of international business can leave companies exposed to bribes and fraudulent financial practices.
    • Corruption has a disproportionate impact on the poor and most vulnerable, increasing costs and reducing access to services, including health, education, and justice. 
    • Corruption in the procurement of drugs and medical equipment drives up costs and can lead to sub-standard or harmful products. 
      • The human costs of counterfeit drugs and vaccinations on health outcomes and the life-long impacts on children far exceed the financial costs. 
    • Corruption erodes trust in the government and Corruption impedes investment, with consequent effects on growth and jobs. 

    Measures to combat corruption in India 

    • The institution of Lokpal has been operationalised by the appointment of Chairperson and Members. 
    • Lokpal is statutorily mandated to directly receive and process complaints as regards alleged offences against public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act,1988.
    • The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 has been amended in 2018.
      •  It clearly criminalizes the act of giving bribes and will help check big-ticket corruption by creating a vicarious liability in respect of senior management of commercial organizations.
    • Right To Information Act, 2005: The intent behind the enactment of the Act is to promote transparency and accountability in the working of Public Authorities.
    • Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), through various orders and circulars recommended the adoption of the Integrity Pact to all the organizations in major procurement activities and to ensure effective and expeditious investigation wherever any irregularity/misconduct is noticed. 

    Suggestions and Way Ahead 

    • India needs to have “zero tolerance” for corruption in the administrative ecosystem and this would work for the idea of a developed India.
    •  Rewards and incentives must be granted to encourage people to cultivate an ethical culture. 
    • Conflicts of interest must be managed efficiently, and a compliance-friendly environment must be fostered.
    • The most basic step one has to follow to alienate corruption is by doing the work righteously even when one isn’t under the eyes of supervision. 
    • We should follow the protocols laid down by the government meticulously to be a righteous citizens of the country.”

    Mains Practice Question 

    [Q] Corruption in India is not limited to collusive high-level scams. Critically examine the statement and give your views to improve the situation.