COMPLETELY OPEN SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE
is required to tackle rampant corruptionsays Dr. Leo Rebello in this well-argued article.
Democracy means “government of the people, by the people and for the people,” and you cannot be for the people and lie to them। “No lying ever” and transparency at every stage has to be the rule of Governance। Transparency is the key word in corruption-proofing।
From time to time I have given several ideas on how to remove corruption which is the root cause of our downfall। Today, I give some more fundamental guidelines that should be able to remove corruption by 90% if these suggestions are implemented properly.
1.. If we are to have a corruption-free Governance, transparency must be foisted from the lowest to the topmost functionary. And any person who cannot stand that kind of heat should “stay out of the kitchen,” as the saying goes. So, at the time of selection of any Govt. servant from Police Constable to Supreme Court Judge, in addition to medical examination, there should be IQ, EQ, MQ, SQ tests.
2.. They should declare their and their families' assets when they join the Govt. service (entry level) and then every 3 or 5 years. And these assets and liabilities should be investigated. If there are assets disproportionate to the known sources of income, then these should be attached immediately and then ipso facto suspension from service should follow and time-bound inquiry be conducted in justice and fairness. It is our experience that inspite of indictment by the court or pending inquiry the govt. servants get promotions and consequently they get more ruthless. I recently got removed one Consumer Court Judge in Mumbai, who was promoted inspite of several well-documentd complaints against him, by writing to various authorities and now I am after two police officers who got promotions inspite of indicment by the Human Rights Court in a serious offense of victimising a cancer woman.
3.. There should be no stamps or fees for every little thing in the Justice delivery system. Because only when administration fails that the litigants have to go knocking at the doors of the courts. Why there should be fee for redressal of wrongs? When redressal mechanism is seen as revenue generation, then the whole justice delivery system turns into a big business and becomes another rotten machine of inefficiency, sloth and corruption. The registrars, assistant registrars, judicial clerks sit with open drawers full of notes and Anti Corruption Bureau does not move in the matter, because at the top of ACBs are corrupt persons installed to guard the fortress. Same is the case with the RTI by and large and if one were to study the functioning of the Lok Ayuktas (barring a couple of exceptions), less said the better of this premier institution. The only Govt. organisation that is above board so far is : Comptroller and Auditor General
4.. All political representatives, top bureaucrats, police and revenue personnel and judges should be wired while performing official duties. If they are caught that should be the end of their credibility and careers. Jim Stark a Canadian explains how this works in his forthcoming book: While on duty all govt functionaries would have to “wear” a voice-activated tape recorder/video camera. All these “while-on-duty” recordings (probably thousands of hours of “tape” every day) would then be copied and permanently archived at two separate physical locations. They would be made digitally available to the public from an independent security service charged with transcribing and posting the spoken/written words on the Internet, as a transcript or in audio form. Transcripts of all recordings should be translated into all major languages on an on-demand basis.
5.. The governmental traditions seem to dictate that everything is to be kept secret unless there is a very good reason to make it public. That is where all the mischief begins. For example, defense budget is not even presented to the august house of Parliament, that is where all the rampant corruption in the defense services begin and if Bofors gun type scandals come out in the open, by mistake, nothing happens as everyone from the top to the bottom are involved. On the contrary various Govt. functionaries have a free trip abroad in the name of investigation. Hence, not for nothing CBI is known as Central Bureau of Idiots. CBI, to be effective, should be directly reporting to the President of India, who will have Vice President, Speaker and the CAG to assist him/her, if required.
6.. Since there is no transparency or accountability, the corrupt persons have become very bold. Take for example, the present CJI's unacceptable rantings. He says he is above RTI, he need not divulge his income, he cannot be prosecuted for corruption, or under the contempt of courts act, he wants all the powers of appointment of High Court and Supreme Court judges vested in him (or the so-called SC Collegium) and he can afford to talk gormlessly like this because he is "protected". Now this protection was given to judges so that they are not victimised while performing their duties with conscience. But this "power" has become a shield against rampant corruption in the judiciary. From there emerges arbitrariness, 'envelopmental judgments' and the law is thrown to the winds. The same SCI, however, makes it mandatory even to the contesting candidates to declare their and their families' assets which is not only discriminatory, but it adversely affects the voting pattern. Instead of defeating candidates like Mayawati, Lilawati or Kalawati, they are elected, because persons like Dr. Leo Rebello, no matter how talented, capable, highly qualified, widely travelled, experienced or honest they may be cannot get elected, since they have no "black money or muscle power" decide the voters. And then the false exit surveys or bogus astrologers or betting syndicates and the corrupt fourth estate, by misleading the voters, facilitate the corrupt to get elected. So, instead of a level playing ground, it creates corruption prone setting like in the USA -- where corrupt puppets like George Bush are declared "elected" inspite of half a million less votes, by manipulating Electronic Voting Machines without Vote Audit safety and Manmohan Singh enters the Rajya Sabha eventhough he does not reside there and then takes the nation for a ride. Corruption at its worst.
7.. There must be a new tradition, such that everything is public unless there is a compelling reason as to why it should be kept private, and even in such instances, the reason for privacy must be made public, and there must be a free appeal procedure whereby a decision to conceal information (read corrupt practices) can be overturned. People must insist on transparent functioning of every govt. department. Anything said or done in the public interest must be public and public servant must behave as such. Pramod Mahajan, for example, gave BSES to REL on a platter. How much he or his Govt. made in the process, who killed him etc. would be out in the open in that case. When even under the RTI the corrupt know how to obfuscate public queries or how even Legislative questions are masked, then they work against the national motto -- Satyamev Jayate, truth should prevail.
8.. It is our experience that most public servants give shoddy treatment to the public and even to the elected representatives. Consequently, sections like 186 IPC (obstructing public servant on duty) should go, because these laws were enacted by the insecure Britishers, in 1860, who were afraid of the natives. This particular section has been misused hugely by corrupt government servants to keep activists under control. Even police put false cases against the complainant or activist for creating nuisance at the police station, when they insist on recording the FIR and register counter cases against the complainant by taking money from the accused or known criminals.
9.. Sections 166 to 169, 217 and 218 of the IPC which deal with public servants violating various laws require prior permission for their prosecution, which are rarely given because there is an unwritten code in Govt. deptts, "protect each other" and consequently if you have a corrupt and SC IAS officer who has made a false case u/s 186 of the IPC against a known activist, and there is a corrupt magistrate and APP both of whom belong to SC, then you can well imagine the outcome. Now, in law, these people can be hauled up u/s 219 of the IPC -- public servant in judicial proceeding corruptly making report, etc. contrary to law which carries 7-year jail term or fine or both, but you have to first apply to the CJI and he has to give permission. Under the RTI someone should find out how many thousands of false cases u/s 186 IPC are recorded by the corrupt public servants and as against that how many corrupt public servants have been prosecuted u/s 166 to 169, 217 and 218 and how many corrupt Magistrates have been allowed to be prosecuted u/s 219 by the Chief Justices.
10. The politicians, bureaucrats and above all judges must maintain the highest levels of integrity, and any serious breach of the people’s trust should result in the loss of a career, pension, and, if the offence warrants it, the loss of one’s personal freedom (meaning you go to jail) as per the dictum. No matter how high or mighty you may be the law is ever above you.
11. You simply can’t mislead the folks you are paid to serve says the RTI. Before that in 1986 the Consumer Protection Act talked of 6 or 7 rights of the consumers, three of them being Right to Know and Right to Information and Right to (swift) Redressal. Where is the swift redressal in Consumer Courts or even under the RTI?
12. Staff rotation, whistle-blowing legislation, very strict limitations on employment after retirement could be some more corruption deterrence techniques that could be employed effectively. It is our experience that the top bureaucrats, judges as they near retirement they start compromising, keeping an eye on post retirement postings. And mainly pliable persons get selected as Lok Ayuktas, Information Commissioners, Chairmen of various panels, Governors, or as nominated MPs. If watchdogs become corrupt who will guard the fence? So, once you retire you retire completely and then as per Chaturvarna go into Vanaprastha, that is serve the society absolutely FREE of charge before you go into Vanvas for spiritual evolution. But by wildly apeing the West we have lost our ethos.
13. Citizen policing against corruption: Citizens should be all the time alert against corruption. "Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice, and discouraging foreign investment and aid", thus spoke Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, at the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
14. Examples how this can be done: You find that a traffic constable inspite of finding excess alcohol beyond the permissible limit in the driver, pockets a bribe and allows the motorist to drive away. If you have seen this, then note his number, location, take his photograph using mobile phone camera and notify the authorities in writing and follow up till the corrupt is brought to book. Even citizen arrest is possible. But the chances are unless you are atleast two persons, knowledgeable and strong, the said traffic constable may put a case of assaulting a public servant on duty as soon as you reach the police station and the duty officer will record his complaint and put you behind bars. Or even if your complaint is recorded, it will be a counter complaint and then you keep going to the courts for the next 10 to 12 years.
15। Corruption at the highest level, like the signing of Indo-US nuclear deal clandestinely, or US attacking Iraq for oil under the guise of Iraq having WMDs, inspite of a clean report by UN arms inspector or inspite of world opinion, or now while the World is enjoying Olympics, American armada heading towards Iran for imminent attack, amounts to humanity committing omnicide. Therefore, it behoves everyone with a brain, a heart or a soul to scream: “Stop, you fools—you’ll kill us all!”. In other words, what is needed today is some solid traction on the ground in the form of a bona fide strategy that gets us onto a path that would save us from imminent damnation. Information is the first handle, but if information is hidden by the Official Secrets Act and that kind of con on democracy, then it is time we said we want FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION - A COMPLETELY OPEN SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE, nothing less, for "We, the People" decide and you are only our public servants not rulers. Period.
Dr. Leo Rebello is Bombay-based medico-social worker, writer and activist.His website : http://www.healthwisdom.org/