The Union Minister for Law and Justice, M. Veerappa Moily, said on Sunday that the Centre would consider amending Articles 309, 310 and 311 of the Constitution thus removing protection and safeguards in prosecuting corrupt public servants.
The Minister was of the view that prior sanction should not be necessary for prosecuting a public servant “who has been trapped red-handed or found in possession of assets disproportionate to known sources of income.”
The Minister in his valedictory address at the National Seminar on ‘Fighting Crimes Related to Corruption’ was responding to the suggestion made by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan on Saturday for amending the laws to provide for confiscation of properties of persons convicted in corruption cases.
The seminar was jointly organised by LNJN National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science and the CBI.
Mr. Moily said: “There is a feeling that the protection given to the public servants under Article 311 of the Constitution of India is being used to create obstacles for expeditious punitive action.” He said: “Article 311 as interpreted by our courts has made it very difficult to deal effectively with corrupt civil servants.”
He said: “There is no gainsaying that the provisions of Article 311 have come in the way of bringing corrupt civil servants to book. Article 311 would require a revisit.” Article 311 of the Constitution might be repealed along with the Article 310 and legislation should be passed under Article 309 to provide for the terms and conditions of service of public servants, including necessary protection against arbitrary action.
The Minister said: “The menace of corruption is an important issue that is bothering the policy makers, administrators and the general public for a long time. The prevalence of widespread corruption and ineffective anti-corruption interventions in this country has led to public cynicism.”
“The fight against corruption is not only a moral imperative but an economic necessity for a nation aspiring to emerge as a global player. Corruption discourages investment (foreign/ domestic), harnessing of best technologies, resources etc. that requires transparency, fair play and is an impediment for integration with global economy. The issue of fighting corruption and building good governance are of paramount importance for achieving rapid economic development.”
The Minister suggested wide-ranging reforms to curb corruption — the scope of Prevention of Corruption Act should be widened to include gross perversion of the Constitution and democratic institutions amounting to wilful violation of the oath of office, abuse of authority by unduly favouring or harming someone, obstruction of justice, squandering public money and collusive bribery.
Mr. Moily said the Corrupt Public Servants (Forfeiture of Property) Bill as suggested by the Law Commission should be enacted without further delay; steps should be taken for immediate implementation of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act 1988 and statutory protection for whistleblowers and victim protection.