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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)



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Lokpal Bill: Presentation by ARSIPSO

 
 
  1. The Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO) is an apex body of retired IPS officers of the country. It represents a composite experience of senior IPS officers, who had spent their lifetime in the service of the nation, performing various roles in different complex and specialized fields of public administration. Having pondered over the issue of Lokpal in its meetings, ARSIPSO considers it important to express its views on the issues surrounding the anti corruption regime in the country, particularly the drafting of the Lokpal bill.
  2. ARSIPSO holds the view that corruption in public life in the country has acquired menacing proportions and has become an important national issue. This has been exemplified by the scale of scams witnessed in the recent past. The challenge of combating the menace has also been recognized and accepted by the Prime Minister in his address to the nation on 15th August 2011.
  3. We are aware that on the basis of the available experience and diagnoses, important institutional reforms and legislations were already being contemplated by several Govt. institutions and anti corruption activists, representing the civil society. A valid argument was also being built up for the enlargement of the existing CVC and its further empowerment through crucial amendments to the CVC Act. Likewise, in view of mounting criticism of CBIs role and performance, it was being felt that the premier investigating agency should be accorded genuine functional and financial autonomy. Another contentious issue related to the efficacy of superintendence of the CVC over the CBI in matters of registration, investigation and prosecution of anti corruption cases. Similarly, it was considered necessary to have a standardized operating mechanism of anti corruption administration in all states through State Vigilance Commissions or Lokayuktas to address the problems of corruption affecting the states and its citizens at the grass roots levels.

  4. While the Govt. machinery was moving at its own pace to deal with the worsening scenario, the issue has been brought centre-stage through the recent nation-wide protests, led by Anna Hazare. The issues raised by the agitation are extremely valid and call for urgent redressal through a comprehensive action. A strong and effective Lokpal would be a decisive step forward in signaling the administrations will and determination to combat corruption in public life.

  5. The Jan Lokpal draft, in our view, is based on a realistic appreciation and understanding of the problem and the weaknesses and inadequacies of the institutions meant to deal with the menace of corruption. Other versions of the Lokpal draft, which are available in the public domain, have also been examined closely. On the basis of a comparative examination and keeping in view the experiences and constraints felt in the anti corruption institutions/ administrations at different levels, we would like to submit the following points for the consideration of the Standing Committee of the Parliament:

 
   
  1. The scope and jurisdiction of the Lokpal, as proposed in the Jan Lokpal draft, is quite comprehensive. The clubbing of public grievance redressal and whistleblowers law with anti-corruption is pragmatic and integral to the anti-corruption strategy. The action that should naturally originate from the public grievances or whistle blowers complaints of financial or administrative misconduct of public servants should fall under the domain of the Lokpal. So far, this role was being discharged by the CVC, but in the new dispensation, it should shift naturally to the Lokpal.

  2. The Lokpals jurisdiction should cover all ranks of public servants from the lowest to the Prime Minister. The laws of corruption do not make any distinction between public servants and do not permit a corrupt practice even by the PM. Under our Constitution, the PM is not above law. The same logic would apply to the Ministers and MPs.

  3. Any categorization of public servants between higher and lower bureaucracy is fraught with dangerous implications. It needs to be understood that all major cases of corruption involve various ranks simultaneously. Any compartmentalization, as suggested by certain quarters, would only frustrate the investigations and benefit the corrupt and vested interests. There is also enough experience on record about the way the provision of single directive has been misused to delay the legal process and shield the wrong doers.

  4. The case of corruption in Judiciary is equally important and needs urgent attention. However, we favour a separate mechanism in form of a National Judicial Commission to cover both higher and lower judiciary. For a more objective and balanced evaluation of the corrupt conduct of judicial officers, the Judicial Commission should have 50% or more members with non judicial background.
  5. The Jan Lokpals definition of public authority, public servants and vigilance angle is quite elaborate and deserves to be adopted.

  6. Jan Lokpals recommendation on the composition, eligibility and disqualification criteria for Lokpal is well thought out and is comparable with the Govt. draft. However, we disagree with the suggested composition of the Selection Committee and the selection process. The Selection Committee should admittedly be independent and objective, but should not be made too unwieldy to become a source of confusion and delay. We recommend a committee, comprising the Vice President of India (as Chairman), the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, senior most Chief Justice of the High Court, Chairman UPSC and Chairman Lokpal(after the first Lokpal is appointed). For the first round of appointments, the processing and short listing of the names should be entrusted to the UPSC and thereafter, it should be taken over by the Lokpal itself.

  7. For an effective anti-corruption administration, Lokpal should bring about a synergy between anti-corruption law, grievance handling and whistleblowers law is important. The Lokpal should have an effective role with regard to disciplinary action, investigation and prosecution of criminal cases. In this regard, the role visualized by the Jan Lokpal draft is quite comprehensive. The powers to direct investigation and follow up the prosecution are important and necessary. A self contained and duly empowered investigating agency, supervised by the Lokpal, is important for a meaningful and conclusive investigation.

  8. With the proposed size and jurisdiction of the Lokpal, a separate existence of CVC should become redundant. It should, therefore, be merged with the Lokpal, with its existing infrastructure, providing the nucleus for the Lokpal establishment to build on.

  9. The status of DSPE Act or the CBI is vital for anti corruption investigation in the country. There is great merit in the demand for functional and financial autonomy for the CBI. This should enable objective, timely and effective investigation. The desired insulation of the CBI from extraneous and obstructive influences can be achieved by making the CBI answerable to the Lokpal and taking it completely out of the executive control of the Government. This would mean transferring the superintendence from the CVC to the Lokpal, but the key factor is that it should be made genuine.

  10. There should be no ground for splitting the Economic Offences Wing from the anti-corruption function of the CBI, as the two are very closely connected and a separation would benefit only the offenders and the vested interests. However, conventional crime can be shifted from the CBI to the NIA.

  11. For further strengthening of the anti-corruption investigation, the Enforcement Directorate should preferably be merged with the CBI or made directly answerable to the Lokpal.
  12. With the merger of CVC, the CVOs in the Ministries and PSUs would transfer under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal. Additionally, the selection process should also get under the exclusive control of the Lokpal.

  13. Powers to frame rules under the Lokpal Act are important and should reside entirely with the Lokpal. The delegation of Lokpal functions in respect of vigilance administration would be natural and in keeping with the existing provisions under the CVC Act.

  14. For the states, we recommend replication of the Lokpal setup in form of Lokayuktas through a standard legislation, guided/directed by the Parliament.

 
6 Further elaboration on the above issues, with relevant justifications would be provided by our representatives during the presentation before the Standing Committee. The date and time for the same may please be fixed and conveyed to us at the earliest.
General Secretary, ARSIPSO
 
     
 

The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.
 
     
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