Lamenting that certain provisions in the Constitution have made it difficult to deal with corrupt civil servants, Law Minister Veerappa Moily on Sunday said there was a need to "revisit" the article granting protection to government employees and that he was pursuing the matter with the Prime Minister.
"There is no gainsaying that the provisions of Article 311 have come in the way of bringing the corrupt civil servants to book. Article 311 would require a revisit...This needs to be done. I am pursuing the matter with the Prime Minister and the government," Moily said.
He also referred to the Sanathanam Committee on prevention of corruption which had remarked that Article 311 of the Constitution as interpreted by the courts has made it difficult to deal effectively with corrupt civil servants.
The Article grants certain rights and protection to government employees, which enforcement agencies feel, are often used to delay prosecution by corrupt officials.
The Law Minister's remarks assume significance against the backdrop of Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan pointing at the procedural delays like granting sanction in initiating action against corrupt officials.
"Even after Article 311 was amended, the panoply of safeguards and procedures still available is interpreted in such a manner as to make the proceedings protracted, and therefore, effete in the ultimate analysis," Moily said. Moily, who was addressing a seminar on fighting crimes related to corruption, suggested repealing Article 311 and 310 and said a new legislation be passed under Article 309 to provide for terms and conditions of service of public servants, including protection against arbitrary action.
"We need to redefine and revisit the criteria to obtain sanction," Moily later told reporters.
He said the Law Ministry has initiated steps on many of these issues. "This is the way. There should be a multi-pronged attack on corruption...every loophole has to be plugged. Sometime there is a loophole in the law and sometime in the precedents declared by the courts," Moily added.
He said various wings of the government find alibi for their lapses by passing the buck to other democratic institutions.
"If one of the democratic institution leaves space, the mafia or extra-constitutional authority occupies that space.
Realisation of its own authority and discharging its sphere of responsibility, developing accountability and responsiveness are the real solutions to the conflicting situations of eroding democratic polity," he said.