Rajya Sabha

December 7, 2015

Vivek Gupta speaks on the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013

Corruption is probably one of those words that are most commonly understood by the Indian people. However Sir, before we start talking about the corruption we must understand that there are two different types of corruption.

One is the senior citizen who is not getting his pension, he is forced to resort to corruption to start getting this pension or the people who don’t get their ration or basic common facilities and amenities; then have to resort the corruption. We as a united country have failed to provide people some basic common necessities and which is why they have to resort to corruption.

The other is, Sir, where someone in position of power or influence uses his position to give some benefit which is not due to some group of people. It is that corruption that we should tackle and come very hardly on.

We should first look at the basic root of corruption. Sir, one of basic root of corruption is black money. And it is no secret that black money has its origins in election funding. Herein comes my party Supremo and popular leader Hon’ble Mamata Banerjee. You know she was first one to talk about electoral reforms; it is even mentioned in the election manifesto of Trinamool Congress. We believe in massive comprehensive electoral reforms drawing on international base practices so that the corrupt and criminals do not becomes the people’s representatives.

We also believe that to reach this goal of corruption free politics, time has come for the nation to adopt government funding of elections which is already functional in many nations of the world including UK, Germany, France etc .

Sir this Bill has several defects. I am just outlining a few one of them so that through you I can draw the attention of the Hon’ble Minister who, if he so wishes, correct them.

Sir, all relatives of the person have been left out. This is a very important ommission. Family and friends are one of the most important forms of the corruption that has been left out completely. They have not been included in this Bill. If I do not wish to be part of the corruption directly I can always ask to take the money or the draft to my wife or my father or my family or friend. That has been left out completely.

Sir, we have witnessed in the past that people who are sitting in eminent positions have asked the corruption to be given to the charities or to the companies they own. That also has been left out in the definition of corruption in the Bill. I would not like to take the name but a previous Election Commissioner got money from a political party into his favorite charity. After that what happened the world knows.

Sir, lobbying is a dirty word or a good word I don’t know. But lobbying activities are not at all covered. Sir, it is an open fact and open secret that lobbying takes place in India both at public policy and political levels. However it happens in hush-hush manner in the name of funding, in the name of NGOs; it is also one very effective tool used by people for corruption. Lobbying is also not included in this Bill.

Sir, recently a magazine featured an article how public servants are regularly getting free tickets of airlines and upgrades in airlines and most of these public officials belong to be ministry of civil aviation. Now it is an open understanding that it is a quid pro quo. These are also not included in the definition of corruption.

Sir there is Supreme Court case going on where a major Corporator has said that whenever a politician writes a recommendation letter we give them jobs. Now whether there is a quid pro quo involved or not that they did not spell out. But these possibilities, these definitions have not been included in the Act. Sir, I would not like to repeat but just reiterate that the post retirement posting of all people does influence these people to take their decisions.

Sir, this Bill has severely diluted the procedure to prosecute public officials. The requirement of intentional enrichment and the onus of the proof on the prosecutions will make it much more harder for advocates of anti-corruption. The prosecution will need to prove the position of unexplained assets as well as intention to enrich oneself. It may be difficult to be prove that the intention to amass wealth above the description of law.

Sir, in the previous Bill at least collusive bribery, where both parties have benefitted, and cursive bribery had a differentiation. Sir, through you I would like to draw the attention of the Hon’ble Minister that cursive bribery has been left out where citizen is compelled to give bribes. This is the one scenario I referred to in my earlier speech where the citizen is forced to pay the bribe.

Sir, towards the end of my speech, I would like to give a few quotes by Hon’ble Mamata Banerjee:

“Black Money leads to money power, money power leads to muscle power. Money and muscle power are together a toxic combination for parliamentary democracy.”

“I have referred to the 14 cases to the central agency but it did not take up those.”

Sir, the Supreme Court has referred to the CBI as a caged parrot and His Master’s Voice. Sir if a body like the Supreme Court refers to such examples that means something is wrong there. Hindi mein kehte hain bina aag ke dhuwa nahi hoti hain. So that means there is something.

Sir, what would suggest as a party is to make the CBI more powerful, more transparent and independent of its political master. Our last suggestion is to expand the definition of offences of bribery and compulsory disclosure by company’s expenditure on  bribery.