The J&K State witnessed various Laws/Acts from time to time for the eradication of corruption. The menace of corruption is deep-rooted and has consumed the vital organs of the society. It is very harmful and detrimental for all aspects of society – social, spiritual, political, economical, educational and moral. It corrodes a society’s beauty, values, strength and resources. Though the term ‘corruption’ has wide connotations but generally it is described as misusing one’s office for a private gain or unofficial end. The Oxford Dictionary defines corruption as a dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.
The main reason of corruption could be mismanagement and disorganization. There is a weak control on various departments and their working. This leads to lack of coordination and control among departments and levels of organization. This uncontrolled and unsupervised administration gives rise to corruption on large scale.
The J&K State figures among the most alarmingly corrupt states of India according to a global organization “Transparency International”. Not a single field or department is free from corruption. Even the State Finance Commission headed by Dr. Mehmoodur Rehman which was constituted by the State Government, reportedly warned that corruption has become all pervasive and omnipresent in the State with conventional laws hardly proving effective to curb the menace. The said Commission has termed certain offices as “citadels of corruption and festering sores”. The said report has noticed that laws to deal with rampant graft and blatant embezzlement of public money are failing short of the need and the existing apparatus to deal with corruption has not touched the subject beyond the fringes.
According to a survey Police department tops the corruption chart. The powers enjoyed by the police are so wide that they can accuse, arrest and harass even an honest person. Electricity, education, water supply and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme fell under the other corrupt services. In fact, the menace of corruption has even crept into such institutions which were considered to be sanctimonious such as educational institutions, hospitals etc. In the hospitals corruption is associated with non-availability of medicines, spurious medicines, getting admission, consultation with doctors and availing diagnostic services. Doctors prescribe unnecessary medicines and various diagnostic investigations for commissions. There have been cases of diversion of medical supplies from government hospitals and clinics as well as supply and distribution of medicines of inferior quality.
Furthermore, retention of retired officials also encourages corruption by depriving the deserving youth their rights of employment. Due to lack of employment the youth are willing to pay huge amount for jobs. Many employers take undue advantage of this situation. They take bribe and give appointment letters. The appointed employee then uses all means (legal & illegal) to recover his lost money as early as possible. Hence corruption breeds corruption. In Kashmir paying bribes and influence peddling to get jobs done in public offices is a routine activity.
Corruption is also evident from the activities of other sections of society like contractors and builders are constructing sub-standard roads, bridges and houses. Students are engaged in mass copying. Traders are engaged in overcharging, adulteration and under weighing.
The menace of corruption is not restricted to the J&K State but it is prevalent even in most advanced countries. Even in India in recent past big politicians have been charge-sheeted and even put behind the bars.
In J&K various Laws/Acts were enacted from time to time for eradication of corruption. Prior to 1947 during the Maharaja’s Rule in J&K an Act titled “J&K Prevention and Corruption Act, Samvat 2006” was in force. Pursuant to the provisions of the said Act territorial police was authorized to take cognizance of offences of corruption as and when complaints were received by them. After proper investigation into such complaints the reports thereof were placed before the Judicial Courts. Those cases which were prima facie “proved” were put to trial after framing charge-sheet and then the guilty were awarded criminal conviction.
After that in early 1960’s, without repealing the aforementioned Act of Samvat 2006, a new legislation was enforced under the name “The J&K Govt. Servants Prevention of Corruption (Commission) Act, 1961 A.D”. Pursuant to the provisions of the said Act of 1961 A.D., two Commissions (Non-Gazetted) and J&K Anti-Corruption (Gazetted), were constituted with a view to eradicate menace of corruption. Besides, a separate Police Organization called “Anti-Corruption Organization” was established. The complaints received by the commission, whether anonymous or otherwise, were properly scrutinized by the Commission and if found necessary were referred to the Anti-Corruption Organization for thorough investigation under laid down provisions of the Act. Pertinently, it was not mandatory for the Commission to agree with the final report of investigation of the Anti-Corruption Organization. Even in “Not-Proved” cases the alleged accused officials were being charge-sheeted where the Commission would have been of the view that the investigating agency has not fairly concluded the case. After finalizing the inquiry by the Commission the recommendations were submitted to the Govt. for further necessary action. The “Non-Gazetted Commission” was headed by one man of the rank of “Session Judge” and “Gazetted Commission” by a “High Court Judge” as its Chairman with members of the rank of Session Judge. In cases where both Gazetted and Non-Gazetted Govt. Servants were involved, cognizance was taken by the Gazetted Commission. In the year 1974 both the Commissions were amalgamated as one Commission.
Thereafter in 1996 a new legislation was introduced for dealing with corruption cases. The said legislation was titled “J&K Anti-Corruption Tribunal Act”, by virtue of which the Anti-Corruption Organization would take direct cognizance of the complaints for investigation and only prima facie “proved” cases were placed before the Tribunal only after seeking proper sanction from the Govt. The Tribunal so constituted by the Govt. was headed by a retired High Court Judge and its Members were from Civil/Police administration besides judiciary. But later on the said Tribunal was also abolished.
At present the cases of corruption are being dealt with under the provisions of “J&K Prevention of Corruption Act Samvat, 2006”. The cases that are investigated by Vigilance organization are being placed before the Special Judge after obtaining proper sanction for prosecution from the Govt.
In the meantime Govt. has also enacted new law “The J&K Public Men and Public Servants Declaration of Assets and Other Provisions Act, 1983 (Act No.: 5 of 1983)” making it mandatory for the ministers, Govt. officials etc. to declare their assets.
Finally it could be concluded that any law enforced for prevention of corruption is not defective, but the implementers should be sincere and honest in their duties. Enacting new Legislations/Laws is not the remedy for eradicating the corruption, but the implementation of the laws which are already prevalent need to be strictly implemented in letter and spirit with sincerity/honesty. There should be no political, administrative or any other influence in the functioning of the law implementing agency. The most essential and effective apparatus for eradication of the menace of corruption is introspection by each individual and authority.
(The author SOUBIYA YOUSUF is a PG student at the Department of Sociology, Kashmir University.)