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Govt not sincere about checking graft: Lyngdoh

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Aug 7 � The Government of India is not sincere about bringing in a strong legislation to check corruption, observed former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) JM Lyngdoh, who was involved in drafting of the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Lyngdoh pointed out that the Government of India has gone back on its word on drafting of the Lokpal Bill and in the Bill prepared by the Government, the Prime Minister was not kept under the purview of the Lokpal. He said that he was not sure whether the opposition parties are really serious in ensuring strong anti-corruption laws.

The former CEC said that from the actions of the Government, it is clear that it is not sincere on the issue of checking corruption and said that he has full support to social activist Anna Hazare and his team who are fighting for a strong Lokpal Bill to check corruption. �If the Government thinks that the issue of corruption will die down, it is mistaken. For example, fresh corruption cases involving crores of rupees are coming out of the cupboard every day and the issue of corruption will not die down,� he asserted. Similarly, more and more scams will come out in the days to come. However, the fight for a strong anti-corruption legislation may turn out to be a long battle, he said.

There should be uniformity of treating persons involved in corruption and keeping someone out of the purview of the Lokpal Bill prepared by the Government is not the right thing to do. The laws should be equal for all and there should not be any fragmentation of authorities who would deal with corruption cases, Lyngdoh pointed out.

The former CEC observed that the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by citizens could have helped a great deal in checking corruption as it provided for setting up of an independent body with the power to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without prior Government permission. At present, the investigating authorities like the Central Bureau of Investigation need prior permission from the Government to prosecute a minister or a bureaucrat and very often the cases are delayed because of the time taken to accord sanction to prosecute those involved.

Lyngdoh pointed out that in recent times, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) played a pro-active role and unearthed a number of major scams. But the unfortunate part is that not many of those involved in the scams faced prosecution. �Recently, a public prosecutor in Ranchi said that in recent times, several ministers were jailed for their involvement in corruption, while, even the Governor�s house was raided. But not many state governments managed to take such pro-active action against corruption,� he added.

Lyngdoh further said that corruption is the symptom of the �disease affecting the North East region today.�

The former CEC said that the system of election also �rots� and encourages corruption. He said that huge amounts of money is being spent by the political parties and candidates to win the elections and in the process, they rob the state exchequer to collect funds to contest the polls. The Election Commission can do very little to check the menace, he admitted.

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