[PDF Notes] Essay on the Measures taken by the Government for preventing corruption in India

There are various bodies in place for implementing anticorruption policies and raising awareness ‘ on corruption issues. At the federal level, key institutions include the Supreme Court, the Central Vigi­lance Commission (CVC), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Office of the Controller & f Auditor General (C&AG), and the Chief Information Commission (CIC).

At the State level, local anti- corruption bureau have been set up, such as the Anti-corruption Bureau of Maharashtra. The Supreme Court has taken a stronger stance against corruption in recent years, as confirmed by the Bertelsmann Foundation Report 2008. It has challenged the powers of states in several instances. For example, in 2007 in Uttar Pradesh, it challenged the state governor’s powers to pardon politically connected individuals based on arbitrary considerations.

In other instances, judges have taken on a stron­ger role in responding to public interest litigation over official corruption and environmental issues. In December 2006, in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors do not need prior permission to begin proceedings against politicians facing corruption charges.

It has also started ad­dressing corruption in the police by mandating the establishment of a police commission to look into these matters and has ruled that corrupt officers can be prosecuted without government consent.

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is an independent watchdog agency established in 1964.

The CVC has the power to undertake inquiries or investigations of transactions involving certain categories of public servants. It also has supervisory powers over the Central Bureau of Investigations the CVC can investigate complaints against high level public officials at the central level, in cases where they are suspected of having committed an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The CVC is mandated to investigate public sector corruption at the federal level and not at the state level The CVC has an online whistleblower complaint mechanism available on its website. More recently, the CVC is working in collaboration with Transparency International India on introducing Integrity pacts in all state-owned public sector companies, industries and banks. In December 2007, the Commissioner issued a directive to this effect which has resulted in 32 public sector undertakings having adopted an integrity pact.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the prime investigating agency of the central govern­ment and is generally referred to as a credible and respected institution in the country. It is placed under the Ministry of Personnel, Pensions & Grievances and consists of three divisions: the Anti-Corruption Division, the Special Crimes Division and the Economic Offences Division.

These units have the power to investigate cases of alleged corruption in all branches of the central government, but need the per­mission of state governments to investigate cases at the state level. The Supreme and High Courts can instruct the CBI to conduct investigations. Like the CVC, the CBI has a complaint mechanism on its website.

The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C & AG) is praised by the 2007 Global Integrity Report for being independent and well-staffed, with offices of Accountant Generals (AG) in all states.

The C & AG has produced several reports on state departments such as railways, telecommuni­cations, public sector enterprise, and tax administration. These reports have revealed many financial irregularities, suggesting a lack of monitoring of public expenses, poor targeting and corrupt practices in many branches of government. However, since the C & AG has no authority to ensure compliance with its recommendations, the government often fails to implement the reports proposals.

The Chief Information Commission (CIC) was established in 2005 and came into operation in 2006. It has delivered decisions instructing government, courts, universities, police, and ministries on how to share information of public interest. State information commissions have also been opened, thus giving practical shape to the 2005 Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The commissions have not been immune to criticism, however. Of India’s 28 states, 26 have officially constituted information commis­sions to implement the RTI Act. Nine pioneered access to information laws before the RTI Act was passed.

A state report card one year on complimented the quality of the law, but criticised the apathy and lack of awareness of many citizens.

E-Governance has considerably increased the speed of government services in a number of areas and reduced opportunities for bribery. A wide range of public services have been digitized such as obtaining licenses, paying taxes and clearing goods.

The National Portal of India was subsequently created and lists all the services that have been digitised. The assessment of the legal and institutional anticorruption framework points to a combination of robust institutions and lack of accountability in key areas, as emphasised in the 2007 Global Integrity Report.

Some institutions such as the Supreme Court or the Election Commission have taken a stronger stance to combat malpractice in recent years, while key pieces of legislation such as the RTI Act promote greater bureaucratic transparency, granting citizens access to public records.

Despite these emerging trends, however, the institutional anti-corrup­tion framework generally suffers from a lack of coordination, and overlapping and conflicting mandates between institutions addressing corruption.

Key institutions often lack the staff and resources to fulfil their mandate adequately and struggle to protect themselves from political interference. Often, they primarily focus on investigating alleged cases of corruption at the expense of preventive activities. Influential politicians and senior officials are rarely convicted for corruption, eroding public confidence in the political will to effectively tackle corruption.

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