Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fwd: The Lok Pal Bill Debate: Lack of accountability, not Anna Hazare’s fast, should be the focus

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 2:30 PM
Subject: The Lok Pal Bill Debate: Lack of accountability, not Anna Hazare's fast, should be the focus

Asian Centre for Human Rights
[ACHR has Special Consultative Status with the UN ECOSOC]
C-3/441-C, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058, India
Tel/Fax:  +91-11- 45501889 25620583
Website:; Email:

                                  Embargoed for: 23 August 2011

Dear Sir/Madam,

Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has the pleasure to share its latest
report, "The Lok Pal Bill Debate: Lack of accountability, not Anna
Hazare's fast, should be the focus" It is available at:

There is no doubt that Anna Hazare's fast has been the centre of national
and international attention on India.

Many political leaders and corporate honchos described Anna Hazare's
ongoing fast as "blackmail" and "a threat to the parliamentary democracy".
Prominent writers, intellectuals, film makers and Shahi Imam of Jama
Masjid questioned Hazare for his alleged political association with the
right wing political parties. A prominent Dalit activist wants to start
"Save the Constitution" movement. Civil society activists serving in the
National Advisory Council have accused Hazare of silencing dissent. While
Hazare certainly plays the game of brinkmanship for dialogue with the
government, attacking Anna Hazare and his team has become the latest
fashion in the civil society circles.

ACHR's report highlights that impunity is the root cause of corruption and
available official statistics vouch it.

First, though it is a common knowledge that corruption has multiplied
since liberalisation of the Indian economy in 1990s, the number of cases
registered by the CBI have been decreasing regularly. According to the
Annual Reports of the CBI, it registered 1,116 cases in 1990 followed by
1,180 cases in 1991; 1,231 cases in 1992; 1,282 cases in 1993; 1,106 cases
in 1994; 825 cases in 1995; 845 cases in 1996; 746 cases in 1997; 884
cases in 1998; 935 cases in 1999; 921 cases in 2000; 858 cases in 2001;
756 cases in 2002; 707 cases in 2003; 758 cases in 2004; 827 cases in
2005; 719 cases in 2006; 610 cases in 2007; 752 cases in 2008; 840 cases
in 2009 and 731 cases in 2010.

Second, the abysmal rate of prior sanction given for prosecution vis-à-vis
number of cases against corruption registered is scandalous. The Central
Vigilance Commission, country's main anti-corruption body, registered
77,925 cases during 1996-2009 i.e.  4263 cases in 1996; 4304 cases in
1997; 5076 cases in 1998; 6141 cases in 1999; 6285 cases in 2000; 6774
cases in 2001; 6465 cases in 2002; 6993 cases in 2003; 5987 cases in 2004;
5394 cases in 2005; 4798 cases in 2006; 4941 cases in 2007; 4721 cases in
2008; and 5783 cases in 2009.

Out of the 77,925 cases registered by the CVC, the government has given
permission to prosecute only in 1,348 cases i.e. in 1.73% of the
registered cases. The annual break-up of the sanctions are as follows: 1
case in 1996; 12 case in 1997; 27 cases in 1998; 60 cases in 1999; 51
cases in 2000; 53 cases in 2001; 51 cases in 2002; 127 cases in 2003; 120
cases in 2004; 141 cases in 2005; 150 cases in 2006; 192 cases in 2007;
138 cases in 2008 and 225 cases in 2009.

As to how many of these 1.73% cases led to actual conviction is a matter
of conjecture

Third, the Supreme Court's numerous judgements stating that prior sanction
for prosecution is not necessary had little or no impact. Prior sanction
remains mandatory! The CVC in its website further states that only 52
cases were pending sanction for prosecution from various ministries of the
Government of India for over four months as of 28 February 2011. Earlier,
in December 2010, Attorney General Mr G E Vahanvati told the Supreme Court
of India in the 2G Spectrum allocation scam case that request for sanction
for prosecution were pending only in 126 cases involving 319 public
servants of the Central Government.

Fourth, the UPA government once again provides the same impunity under
Sections 50 and 51 of the Draft Lok Pal Bill 2011 by making false
complaints punishable with "imprisonment  for  a  term  which  shall  not
be  less than  two  years  but  which  may  extend  to  five  years  and
with fine  which  shall  not  be  less  than  twenty five  thousand
rupees but  which  may  extend  to  two  lakh  rupees". These provisions
have been actually lifted from Sections 3(viii) and 3(ix) of the Scheduled
Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Nothing could be more ironical than the government of India providing the
same protection to the public servants who exercise the sovereign powers
of the State as provided to the most down-trodden and oppressed classes in
the society.

There cannot be any dispute that parliament of India shall remain supreme
for law-making body. In order to break the Anna Hazare impasse, the
Government is likely to enhance the jurisdiction of the Lok Pal to include
Prime Minister with necessary caveats.

However, so long the regime of prior sanction remains in the statute book,
all other legal measures will be ineffective.

Non-governmental organisations should focus on the lack of political will
of the government to establish accountability while addressing corruption
or any other human rights violations.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely

Suhas Chakma

Palash Biswas
Pl Read:

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