New Delhi: A sitting Supreme Court judge today supported the inclusion of the Prime Minister’s Office within the ambit of Lokpal Bill tabled in Parliament on Thursday.
“As a student of law, I see no substance in the debate that the Prime Minister should be outside the (Lokpal) Bill. A public office of such importance cannot shy away from public scrutiny,” Justice A K Ganguly said.
The judge was addressing a gathering here on the occasion of the release of a book ‘Corruption and Human Rights in India’, authored by Professor C Raj Kumar, the Vice Chancellor of O P Jindal Global University.
Pointing out that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had himself expressed his willingness to bring the PMO under the Lokpal’s scanner, Justice Ganguly said “more efforts to keep the PM out will add to the suspicion among people.”
In his address, Justice Ganguly also criticised the Prevention of Corruption Act, which stipulates sanction by competent authorities before prosecuting any government servant, bureaucrat or politician on charges of corruption.
“The Prevention of Corruption Act, to my mind, is preservation of corruption act. It has a mechanism to protect the corrupt. Without the sanction, the corrupt cannot be prosecuted. Who is to give you the sanction? They (corrupt) do not act individually and they work in a organised way,” he said.
Justice Ganguly is also the part of a two-judge bench which had heard a petition by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy seeking guidelines for the grant of sanctions to prosecute those occupying public offices on the charge of corruption and has reserved its order on the plea.
In our society, unfortunately, a corrupt man is successful and an honest one is frustrated,” Justice Ganguly said, adding “the corrupt ones are most of the times leaders.”
Briefly touching the issue of corruption in judiciary, he rued that two of the high court judges of the country were facing impeachment proceeding on corruption charges.
“Both Justice P D Dinakaran and Justice Soumitra Sen, fortunately or unfortunately, were my colleagues at one time but unfortunately I cannot defend them,” he said.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, who also graced the occasion, however, emphasised on the need for a balanced approach in dealing with the issue of corruption saying that rushing to solutions will do more harm than good.
“Shortcomings, wherever, should be identified and filled but impatience and frustration with the current situation of things should not lead us to form an extra-judicial or a quasi-judicial legal process. Eroding the balance by under reach of one or overreach of other will do more harm,” he said.
Congress MP Naveen Jindal said each citizen must do his own duty rightfully to eradicate corruption.
“It (corruption) is not something only at the high echelons of the government but is present throughout. Lokpal may be of help by one percent or two only. It has to come from inside us,” he said.