Corrupt babus could be in trouble sooner than they thought.
A high-powered panel handpicked by the Prime Minister’s Office has told the government to amend Article 311 of the Constitution to enable summary dismissal of senior government officers, once a trial court frames charges against them under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
According to the panel, the officer could be reinstated with full benefits and promotions if he emerges unscathed in the court proceedings and is acquitted of the charges.
The panel said the Supreme Court had upheld the principle of post-decisional hearing when it ruled that the right of being heard was meant to inject justice into the law and could not be applied to make the law lifeless, absurd and self-defeating.
The three-member panel said it was driven to make the recommendation due to “the urgency to get rid of allegedly corrupt government servants”.
The committee was set up three months ago with former secretary in the Department of Personnel and Training, Arvind Verma, former chairman of the Union Public Service Commission P. C. Hota and former Central Vigilance Commissioner P. Shankar as members.
The amendment to Article 311 — that is aimed at protecting government officers against malafide action — would cover senior officers including members of the All India Services (AIS) who can be removed from service only by orders of the President or the Governor.
It seeks to protect honest officers by creating an Independent Advisory Board chaired by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge who scrutinise charge sheets to be filed against corrupt officers.
So far, security of the State is the only ground in which a committee headed by the home secretary is empowered to recommend dismissal without an inquiry.
The panel lamented delays in bringing delinquent officials to justice contributing to the alarming state of affairs, spoke about the “increasing” number of cases where AIS members were found in possession of mind-boggling sums of money and the perception that they got away due to the “unholy nexus” between unscrupulous political elements in the state and the bureaucracy.
To break the nexus, central agencies should be empowered to act against AIS officers if found to be heavily on the wrong side of the law, the committee said as it also created safeguards to insulate the honest.