Planning panel for fair, independent Lokpal, Lokayuktas

Even as the nation is witnessing a deadlock between the Anna Hazare team and the UPA government over the Lokpal issue, the Planning Commission on Saturday maintained that corruption in administration was not only weakening the confidence of the people but also imposing enormous costs.

In its Approach Paper to the 12th Plan, the Commission said: “Corruption at various levels of administration is weakening the confidence of citizens in the quality of governance and is also imposing enormous costs since a system vulnerable to corruption is more easily manipulated by the rich and the powerful.”

The Paper advocated setting up of institutions such as Lokpal and Lokayuktas. It pointed out that even as economic reforms have eliminated corruption from many areas such as import procedures and industrial licensing, “there are other areas where it has surfaced.”

Pointing to the fast economic growth, which has resulted in marked increase in the value of natural resources such as minerals or telecom spectrum and land, the Paper said: “As long as these resources are allotted on the basis of discretion exercised on a non-transparent manner, the perception of corruption and also its likelihood increases.”

Rise in corruption is unavoidable as there is an absence of effective mechanisms for investigating corrupt practices, quickly prosecuting those suspected to be involved and in obtaining convictions from the courts.

“Morally abhorrent”

Stressing the need to curb this widespread menace, it said: “… the broader issue [is] how to rid the system of corruption, which is both morally abhorrent and imposes economic costs. A number of initiatives need to be urgently pursued. Several legislative measures are needed.”

The Commission pitched for setting up independent, fair and accountable institutions such as the Lokpal and Lokayuktas to deal with the menace.

“It is important that these new [Lokpal and Lokayuktas] institutions should function independently, fairly and be accountable,” the Paper said, noting that these institutions should be empowered to investigate complaints of corruption and file cases against whom there is a prima facie case.

“Such institutions could be supported by special courts, which must take quick decisions on cases of corruption, so that effective and quick punishment is meted out and which will act as a deterrent,” it said.

Judicial delays

Pointing to the reason for the growing cynicism, the Commission said: “The long delays in the judicial process are an important factor behind the growing cynicism about the rule of law in our system. Reforms in the legal process need to be put in place without further delay.”

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