Amendment in anti-graft law: Babus relieved
Bureaucrats are relieved but legal experts are skeptical over the proposed amendment to shield babus from prosecution in graft cases after retirement. While the bureaucrats feel it will help overcome the "policy paralysis", legal experts have questioned the move to provide a blanket protection from criminal action without sanction from competent authority.
"A criminal is a criminal" even if he retires or resigns and the amendment could have been made more realistic and deterrent for those taking the system for a ride, was the view of those who were critical of the Cabinet's approval to the amendment in the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Members of the bureaucratic fraternity expressed a sigh of relief over the much-needed protection and welcomed the proposed amendment in anti-graft law for enhancing maximum punishment from five years to seven saying "some deterrent should be there so that no one dares to take the system for a ride."
Sanjay Bhoosreddy, Secretary of Central IAS Association, differed with the view of legal experts on the issue of sanction, saying such a step was necessary to do away with "policy paralysis" in the administration.
However, legal experts like retired judges S N Dhingra and R S Sodhi and senior lawyer Anil Divan expressed reservations over shielding of bureaucrats even after retirement saying the entire proposal does not seem to be on the right path.
Bhoosreddy said bureaucrats are professionals and those doing their work honestly need to be protected.
"We are all professionals and especially those doing their work honestly need to be protected. If we have to do away with the policy paralysis and if we want the bureaucrat or the highest decision making authority to take decisions in the right direction, then system has to provide appropriate environment to ensure investment in nation building," he said. The IAS officer did not have any complains on the proposal to enhance the punishment for corrupt bureaucrats and said, "We would like the government to go after the corrupt elements in the system and nip them in the bud."
"We welcome the steps taken by the government as it is in the overall interest of the administration and governance of the country," he said.
Dhingra said there was no reason to shield a person if a probe agency finds he has committed a crime or is corrupt.
"The CBI or any agency is engaged by the government. If an independent agency says a person has committed a crime and is corrupt, I find no reason why a person should be shielded," he said.
He further said that the approved amendment making it mandatory for CBI to seek prior sanction from Lokayukta or the Lokpal to prosecute a government servant was not necessary as "a criminal is a criminal" even if he retires or resigns.