You should, Mr Singh – Arvind Kejriwal

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

Exposure of several corruption scams and the government’s inadequate reaction to them has severely dented your image as a clean prime minister. Resignations of accused ministers are an eyewash. Once media gets its next story and public anger cools down, Ashok Chavan and Suresh Kalmadi will be rehabilitated, as has happened in so many other cases in the past. When theft or robbery takes place, the culprits ought to go to jail. In order to send them to jail, there ought to be an honest investigation. For investigations to start in any case, there ought to be an FIR. Unfortunately, just two FIRs have been lodged so far in the case of Commonwealth Games despite a huge amount of evidence exposed by the media. There should have been at least 100 FIRs.

There are serious allegations of corruption, forgery, cheating, breach of trust and conspiracy in each of these scams. These are serious criminal offences under the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act. As per law, criminal cases should have been immediately registered in each of the allegations. Rather, you set up a Shunglu Committee.

You had said that you were waiting for the CAG report. If theft takes place in one’s house, one does not set up a committee or call a chartered accountant and get an audit done. One goes to the nearest police station and registers a criminal case. Many of us, including Baba Ramdev, Anna Hazare, Mallika Sarabhai, Swami Agnivesh, Archbishop of Delhi, Devinder Sharma, Kiran Bedi etc, in the presence of more than 10,000 people went to the police station at Parliament Street on November 14 and filed police complaints in some of the allegations in the Commonwealth Games.

We also filed similar complaints with the CBI. However, none of these agencies has registered any case so far. This means that the investigations have not yet started in any of the allegations in Commonwealth Games. Having made the police complaints, we are wondering – who will investigate these complaints?

The Delhi Police and the CBI directly report precisely to the same set of people, some of whom are accused in this complaint or they are politically so well-connected (or critical to the continuance of the UPA government) that it will be foolhardy to believe that the CBI or the Delhi Police will ever dare to raid or question them. In the 2G spectrum case, the CBI registered a criminal case almost a year ago. Despite severe admonitions by the Supreme Court on several subsequent occasions, the CBI is yet to make any headway in that case. Since the CBI is directly under the control of the government, whose existence depends upon the support of the prime accused A Raja’s party, it is foolhardy to believe that the CBI will do any honest investigation into that case. When it took you more than a year to seek resignation of Raja, how can one even imagine that an honest criminal case will be launched against him, unless he falls out of favour with the UPA. Therefore, having filed a police complaint, we do not believe that honest investigations will take place because there is no agency in the country, which is independent and has adequate powers to investigate and prosecute the guilty.

A look at all anti-corruption laws and agencies reveals that all of them suffer from internal contradictions. There is not a single effective anti-corruption agency in our country. In the structure and functioning of each of these agencies, critical loopholes have been left deliberately so as to make them ineffective.

When corruption reached its peak in Hong Kong in the 1970s, their government created an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and gave it complete powers. The commission sacked 103 out of 107 police officers in one go. That sent a strong signal to the entire machinery that corruption would not be tolerated any more. Today, Hong Kong is among of the most honest regions. It is possible for India to also turn around. A similar commission should be set up in India as well through a law. It should have the powers and resources to investigate complaints of corruption and prosecute the guilty. What should be the ingredients of such a body? A meeting of some eminent people took place in August 2010. It was attended by some very senior people who have been connected with administering anti-corruption systems in our country, like Justice N Santosh Hegde (Lokayukta of Karnataka), Mr P Shankar (former CVC), Mr Pratyush Sinha (former CVC) and Mr J M Lyngdoh (former chief election commissioner). The meeting discussed the deficiencies in our present anti-corruption set up and what needs to be done. They all concurred that all the anti-corruption agencies should be merged into one agency, say Independent Commission Against Corruption (could be called Lokpal), which should have the following ingredients:

a.   It should be completely independent of the government.

b.   It should have jurisdiction over both politicians and bureaucrats.

c.   It should have the power to initiate investigations and prosecution in any case without needing any approval or permission.

d.   This body should also have the powers and resources to provide protection to whistle-blowers, both within and outside the government.

e.   The loss caused to the exchequer due to the wrongdoing of a dishonest person should be recovered from that person.

f.    The appointments to Lokpal should be transparent and participatory.

g.   The functioning of the Lokpal should be completely transparent and accountable to prevent it from becoming a hub of corruption itself.

Everyone is asking – why didn’t the PM give permission to prosecute A Raja for more than 11 months? How can such an honest prime minister be chairing some of the worst corruption scams in independent India?

When people ask these questions, they fail to understand your political compulsions. There is a strong need for an independent and powerful anti-corruption agency. Suppose such an agency were there. Suppose this agency had the powers to independently initiate investigations and prosecution without needing any permission from you. And suppose this agency actually started investigating Raja. Then if Raja or DMK threaten you, you can express your helplessness in interfering with the investigations. Thus, you can save your skin, your image and your government without compromising the investigations. Today, the CBI directly reports to you. It cannot initiate any investigation or prosecution without your approval. Since you are dependent upon these people for the survival of your government, obviously you find it difficult to allow the CBI to do any honest investigation. This is the last chance for you Dr Singh – if you set up such an agency, you will not only save your image but also create history by starting India’s journey out of corruption. This is the only way to wriggle out of the mess that you find yourself in. – Khaleej Times