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Talking out corruption
Amid trading of charges the real issue of fighting graft has been sidelined
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While cries against corruption have been becoming louder and louder , with more and more cases of scams, amassing of wealth by politicians,bureaucrats and businessmen coming out day after day and politicians of various hues trading charges the real question of evolving institutional mechanism to eliminate this evil has been relegated to the background . While at the national level the enactment of an effective and people-oriented Lokpal Bill is being delayed under one pretext or the other and even moves are afoot to dilute some of the existing laws like the Right to Information Act, aimed at making the governance transparent in Jammu and Kashmir, which has earned the dubious distinction of being the most corrupt state in the country , even the existing institutions have been made redundant and non-functional . The enactment of the State Accountability Act followed by the constitution of State Accountability Commission by the PDP-Congress regime, which came to power in 2002 , was a major step for having an institutional mechanism to fight corruption. The law no doubt fell short of the need and had several flaws still it was a welcome measure. The constitution of the first Accountability Commission had generated hope that the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats as also businessmen will be identified and brought to book. The SAC started well , despite its lacking the necessary infrastructure , but soon the powerful politicians-bureaucrtas-businessmen nexus ensured that it dies a premature death with the resignation of its first chairman . For several years the SAC remained headless and it took the present coalition headed by Omar Abdullah two years to select the chairman and the members of this institution . However, the Commission has become virtually non-functional due to the failure of the government to bring necessary changes in the law , eliminating judicial interference in its functioning , providing it necessary infrastructure including independent investigating agency and ensuring full official cooperation for it to perform its task expeditiously . The State government’s decision to bring the bureaucrats out of its purview of SAC further eroded its authority. Since the large-scale corruption is the result of unholy nexus between politicians-bureaucrats and businessmen it is imperative that all of them are brought under the purview of any institution like the Lok Pal, Lok Ayukt or Accountability Commission . The State Government has even failed so far to constitute an independent and credible Vigilance Commission to deal with corruption cases against the government officials .

The recent allegations of corruption , acquiring huge assets quiet disproportionate to their income, grabbing thousands of acres of land , including the forest land by fraudulent means by politicians and bureaucrats as also by the land mafia , have again highlighted the need for ordering a high-level and independent probe into the assets of all politicians , both occupying official chairs or in opposition. The demand made by the PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti for setting up a commission to look into all the assets by the politicians holding offices in the State since 1975 is indeed fully justified. In the first place let all the politicians holding such positions , even those in opposition, come forward and declare their assets ,particularly the immovable property acquired by them and the manner in which they have acquired it. The chief minister should take a lead by coming out with the assets acquired by him and his family followed by its scruitiny by an independent agency. The only instance in J&K so far has been the setting up of Ayinger Commission to probe into the charges of corruption and misuse of office against Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, Deputy Prime Minister of the State from 1948 to 1953 and then Prime Minister for next ten years by the successor regime headed by G.M.Sadiq . That was more a case of political vendetta and a move to marginalize Bakshi, who was emerging as a major threat to to the new regime, than any genuine move to deal with corruption at the political level. However, in that case too there was no followup action for obvious reasons . The level of corruption since 1963 has multiplied several fold , particularly so since 1975 . It is in this context that the need for setting up a high level commission to inquire into the assets acquired by different politicians and public men becomes imperative.

News Updated at : Friday, November 23, 2012
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