The Lok Satta Party will take the initiative to lead a delegation to the Prime Minister to demand a comprehensive amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Announcing this in a media statement, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said that monumental and growing corruption in India has made it the laughing stock in the comity of nations. India cannot accomplish its dream of becoming a super power by ignoring the omnipresent and omnipotent corruption.
The immediate provocation for the Lok Satta initiative is the resignation by Justice Santosh Hegde as Karnataka Lokaykta protesting against the Karnataka Government’s failure to honor its recommendations, reinstatement of officials suspended for corruption and harassment of Lokayukta employees for their role in ferreting out corruption.
Dr. JP spoke to Justice Santosh Hegde to express his solidarity with him even as a Karnataka Lok Satta Party delegation was to call on the Karnataka Governor to protest against its hostile attitude towards the highly respected institution.
“The resignation of Justice Hegde, a valiant fighter against corruption, eloquently testifies to Karnataka Government’s moral bankruptcy,” said Dr. JP. He recalled that Karnataka had been more fortunate than other States in that eminent jurists like Justice Venkatachala earlier and Justice Santosh Hegde until now, both Justices of the Supreme Court, had occupied the Lokayukta position. The previous Congress Government and the present BJP Government made the institution toothless by denying it powers, resources, and personnel. The situation in other States including Andhra Pradesh is much worse, said Dr. JP.
It is tragic that both the Union and State Governments are allowing corruption to flourish at a time the U. S. Government has successfully bent the Swiss banking giant to reveal the names of American tax dodgers who stashed away their black money with it.
The Lok Satta-led delegation to the Prime Minister will seek an amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act providing for the creation of a Lokpal /Rashtriya Lokayukta headed by a jurist of the rank of a former Chief Justice of India. It should have jurisdiction over the Central Vigilance Commission, the Central Bureau of Investigation and similar agencies and be armed with powers and resources to inquire into corruption indulged in by all Central Government officials and elected people’s representatives barring the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, and the higher judiciary. Chief Ministers will, however, come under its purview.
The amendment will also provide for the creation of an empowered Lokayukta at the State level with jurisdiction over all anti corruption agencies including the Anti Corruption Bureau and the Vigilance Commission and authority to go into cases of corruption against all State Government employees and elected people’s representatives other than the Chief Minister.
Both the Lokpal/Rashtriya Lokayukta at the national level and the Lokayukta at the State level will have powers to order seizure and confiscation of ill-gotten wealth pending an inquiry.
Dr. JP said that Justice Santosh Hegde’s resignation should spur all right-thinking people to take corrective action before it is too late. Corruption further impoverishes the already poor people and hurts economic growth and investments. As a signatory to the International Convention against Corruption, India cannot hold its high so long as it adopts an amoral attitude to corruption.