After an eight-month wait, citizen activists are eagerly waiting for Thursday when “the golden chapter in the history of citizen activism” will be written.
The Bombay High Court on Thursday will have the final hearing on a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging a Government Resolution (GR) issued in 1972, which orders that corruption charges against government officials have to be first investigated by the department seniors.
And only if the department registers an offence with the police, the inquiry will be handed over to any of its branches, such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau or Crime Investigation Department, at its own discretion.
Terming the GR “bad in law”, citizen activist Vijay Chauhan said: “Most complaints against corrupt officials are suppressed in the guise of departmental inquiries... Hence, this GR needs to go if corrupt officials have to go.”
In 2008, activist Anna More filed a PIL in the high court seeking a stay on the GR. Then in July 2009, activist Sanjraj Mangeshkar filed a petition in the HC seeking criminal proceedings against alleged corrupt civic and state housing authority officials. “The officials had joined hands with the builder and certified my building dilapidated, trying to push for its redevelopment. When I wanted to lodge an inquiry against these officials, the GR proved to be a boon for such corrupt officials.”
After Mangeshkar filed a first information report against 28 civic and MHADA officials, the HC combined the PIL with Mangeshkar's petition, staying the GR in September 2009. Activist Krishnaraj Rao believes that the GR is symptomatic of the inherent problems in the system. “This a GR ensured that officials didn’t have to fear public scrutiny. If it is squashed, it will bring in a golden chapter in the history of citizen activism.”