Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Cornering the Corrupt

Updated: October 23, 2015 9:00 am

One realised a few weeks ago that whenever one rang up senior Babus, either they sounded depressed or worried. The best of friends could not be contacted. Then a retired Secretary met me at Gymkhana Club and while discussing Bihar elections he said about 130 IAS officers could soon be in serious trouble. On being pressed, he revealed that a team of top and honest team comprising judges, former cabinet secretaries of vintage years and some young officers with impeccable reputation had been thoroughly examining IAS officers, the names of whom were given to them. The Prime Minister’s Office reportedly prepared a list of 135 IAS officers who have been charged with corruption and will now be given compulsory VRS. This would be the first mass sacking of corrupt IAS officers and would have chilling effect on other IAS officers.

Whether it is right or wrong, but the general impression is that quite a sizeable number are corrupt. If this is true, this en masse dismissals would help cleanse the service. It would put fear in the seniors and thus help cleanse the administration as well. The corruption down the line will also be contained. So far the Civil servants had a strong cohesion and they stick together and unite to defend anyone of them if he or she is in trouble.

The other allied services officers are in jitters as rumours are that enquiry about them, especially of officers in IPS and IRS, will be held too. Most of the officers in the Income-tax have allegedly made tons of money in the scams during the previous regime in collusion with their then political masters.

A month ago, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had asked state governments to compulsorily retire in public interest, IAS officers who are found to be inefficient or of doubtful integrity. As per service rules, the criteria for compulsory retirement are ‘average’ ratings for 5-7 years consecutively and ‘a lukewarm or equivocal certificate of integrity’ – a bureaucratic parlance for corruption. Only three IAS officers were sacked by states and the PMO has now intervened to ensure that everyone in the list is sent home, packing.

PMO has also set up a team of officers who are combing through corruption cases in passport offices, customs and central excise departments. The assets declared by the civil service officers are being analysed threadbare and benami transactions including investments in real estate are being tracked.

There is a saying in Hindi, how long will a mice’s mother hope for its well-being. True how long can corrupt officers hope to escape a determined team, all out to, catch them? If this hunt continues for four year we can expect a healthier and honest administration.

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