Corrupt civil servants could be in trouble if the government walks the talk.
The day after Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan called for seizing illegal properties of officials convicted for corruption, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily called for constitutional amendments to make it easier for the government to dismiss corrupt bureaucrats.
The law minister, however, did not stop at that and said there should be no need for prior approval to prosecute corrupt officials and there should be laws to set up a Lokpal, end benami transactions and protect whistleblowers.
As head of the Administrative Reforms Commission, Moily had recommended many of the suggestions that he spoke about at the conference on ‘Fighting Crimes Related to Corruption’ on Sunday.
The government, however, has already junked quite a few of them, including the one that asked the government to lift the shield of sanction for corrupt officials caught taking bribes. And shoved some others under the carpet like the proposal to set up a Lokpal in Delhi that could investigate Union ministers and Members of Parliament.
The law minister’s suggestion to revisit Article 311 of the constitution — that protects civil servants from motivated proceedings to help honest officials to stand straight — has also been made by earlier panels. And rejected.
Moily, however, was not one to lose hope.
“There is no gainsaying that the provisions of Article 311 have come in the way of bringing the corrupt civil servants to book…” Moily — who would have to move the proposal as law minister — told the conference of law enforcement officials, forensic experts and lawyers.
That this was not an off-the-cuff remark and part of his written speech signalled there could be trouble for the bureaucracy.
“I am pursuing the matter with the prime minister and the government,” he promised. Anti-corruption sleuths have long complained that the constitutional protection to the civil servants made it a torturous exercise for the government to fire the corrupt.