Hyderabad: Even as it welcomed Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy’s promise to usher in corruption-free and transparent governance, the Lok Satta Party on Monday asked him to focus more on political and official corruption at the top.
Addressing media persons here, Lok Satta Party leaders said, “We should be grateful for small mercies like issuance of caste, income, birth and death certificates without the need for greasing the palms of officials at the village/mandal levels.”
They were speaking in response to the Chief Minister’s words that a pilot electronic governance project would be introduced in Chittoor, Krishna, and Khammam districts would ward off corruption in issuance of some certificates.
The Lok Satta leaders said that the Chief Minister is ignoring the elephant in the room in that he has not talked about eliminating corruption indulged in by politicians and officials in higher echelons.
They pointed out that in the wake of a series of mega scams involving siphoning of tens of thousands of crores of rupees and a national uproar, the Union Government is about to introduce a Lokpal Bill in Parliament in the monsoon session.
They hoped that the Bill would result in the creation of a strong and independent Lok Pal to tackle corruption at high levels. It is imperative that in the Lokpal Bill, provision is made for Lokayukta and Local Ombudsmen in states exactly on the same lines a Lokpal. With the UNCAC being ratified by India, Parliament has the power, under Article 253, to make laws to curb corruption in States. Lok Satta is mobilizing 10 lakh signatures to bring pressure on Government of India to enact the law incorporating Lokayukta and Local Ombudsmen as part of Lokpal Bill.
As of now, Andhra Pradesh has a ‘toothless’ Lokayukta with no powers to fight corruption. If the Union Government does not introduce a Bill providing for Lokayuktas at the State level, the State Government can amend the Prevention of Corruption Act and Lokayukta Act to ensure that the corrupt face sure and swift punishment including forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth.
The Lok Satta leaders recalled that their party president Jayaprakash Narayan had presented a draft amendment Bill as early as in 2009 when the present Chief Minister was Speaker of the State Assembly.
The Bill envisages bringing of all elected people’s representatives and high officials within the purview of Lokayukta, ensuring autonomy to ACB, constitution of special courts in all districts to pursue corruption cases, attachment of properties of the guilty, and bringing in all anti corruption institutions like the ACB, Vigilance Department and administrative tribunals under the purview of the Lokayukta.
The Lok Satta leaders added that institution of a Lokayukta and amendments to anti corruption laws are necessary but not sufficient to tackle the deeply entrenched corruption. Decentralization of power and electoral reforms are essential to root out corruption.(INN)