In a bid to protect honest officers, the Centre has given its assent on the changes in the anti-corruption law that may give a ‘shield’ to government employees from prosecution. With this change, the Centre has mandated investigation agencies like CBI to take prior approval before conducting any inquiry against them.
Minister of State for personnel Jitendra Singh on Thursday said the purpose behind mandating such a clause for government officers under the anti-graft law, was to protect honest government officers. “We have decided to introduce the anti-corruption amendment bill in the winter session of Parliament, starting on November 16. A provision for safeguarding all categories of government employees is being offered in the bill” Singh told reporters.
The minister said that the decision was necessary so that the bureaucracy, which is an essential tool for good governance, continues to work without any fear or favor. PM Narendra Modi had recently said that the government’s job was to ensure the safety of honest employees. The move is based on the recommendation of a parliamentary committee, which favoured making it mandatory for probe agencies like the CBI and police to take “previous approval” of the competent authority before conducting any inquiry or investigation against a public servant – be it peon or secretary to the government.
However, such an approval will not be necessary for cases involving “arrest of a person on the spot on the charge of accepting or attempting to accept any undue advantage for himself or for any other person,” the panel has said. The committee, that examined changes in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, gave its report in August this year.
The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 19, 2013. However, it was referred to the parliamentary standing committee, which submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha on February 6, 2014. On April 29 last year, the Cabinet approved amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act and pursued the amendment bill.
The Logical Indian take
Mandating such a step ensures a free working of the central government employees. However, investigation agencies like CBI generally suspect officers who have been accused of advocating corrupt practices. In case of an honest central government officer, whose name is not on the CBI radar, he/she should not have any reason to fear an investigation.
On the other hand, if an officer endorses corrupt practices and even then the CBI needs prior permission to launch an inquiry against him/her, then they will have enough time to hide all their suspicious assets. The CBI should get some autonomy on its function so it can investigate all the evidence against a truly dishonest officer.