Mr.Justice B.P.Jeevan Reddy, the law Commission Chairman while talking on the
provision of forfeiture of property illegally acquired by public servants under the
proposed bill titled the " Corrupt Public Servants (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1999" said,
"Corruption has been severely affecting the country's economy, security and
administration. To weed out this dreaded disease from public life, we need a bitter
medicine". All previous measures to rein- in corruption in public life failed because
nothing mattered as far as the ill-gotten property is safe a huis clos. Situation may
change tout ensemble after the proposed legislation becomes law and gallows the corrupt
of wiping out the very corpus of the corrupt deeds and striking at the very roots of
Corruption unfortunately has become an accepted phenomenon in extant Indian
society. No more it attracts societal disapproval or contempt. Wealth is seen as wealth
whether it is begotten by fair or illegitimate means. Nowadays, jobs having means of
easy money are sought and bought at all costs. It is why such jobs command high
premium in the job market. It is no secret why jobs in select departments in government
service are in high demand. And within these departments there are specific posts that
command high premium on account of their potentiality to generate enormous wealth by
unfair and illegitimate means. Such jobs command money in multiple suitcases in
advance to the posting in addition to periodical profferings for keeping the job terms
because those payments are proved sagacious investments. Politicians, journalists to the
victims of the system while condemning the vicious practice from the public platform
accept it as the sine qua non reality of the life. The sterling question is whether
corruption in any form with the concomitant atrophy in administration and public life
should be tolerated to disgorge the vitals of the Indian democratic fabric.
It is tragic that the police which is morally and professionally bound to protect the
public from the vice of corruption is among the avant coureur in the pernicious race.
Sadly, the addiction is uniform at all ranks from Police Constables to Police
Commissioners save rare exceptions. The corrupt practices take disparate forms in
diverse circumstances, but all leading to the same unfortunate end: derailing the rule of
law and the loss of credibility of the police.
A south Indian state saw in 1998 several wars of attrition between a Police
Commissioner and his political boss about posting of their own favourites to key
positions, leading to messy and dangerous situations like more than one police officer
being posted to the same key post of profit and all of them holding to it fast for months
together. Often fightings broke out among the contenders in the same post for the loaves
of power and other behoofs and such matters made headlines in newspapers. It is wrong
to heap all blames tout a fait on any one side as corrupt. Certainly no side is a paradigm
of virtues in the extent rat-race for pelf and booty. Corruption in India has become just a
rider of the availability of opportunities to share the res gestae of the power.
Police is an institution in the service of law and order. Every case of corruption
involving the police represents a case of the rule of law and justice harrowed. Imaging
the extent of the distortion of the rule of law and justice and the betrayal of the hoi polloi
by the police machinery that apportions in some cases a crore of rupees a year to
middle-ranking official as the illgotten money. Themise en scene is complete with the
swarms of police officials of all ranks au reste warring inter se with wads of high
denomination notes to corner posts potential of generating unlimited illegitimate wealth.
Added to this is those apparatchik at the top making transfers and postings a thriving
business. What can be expected from a law and order machinery run with such a
symbion, but gross abuse and distortion of the rule of law? That is why police is often
called the legalised mafia.
Karnataka had a Superintendent of Police in northern district in 1980 who openly
encouraged those down the line to take bribes and shared the booty. He used to insist
that they were free to allow illegal activities like gambling dens, prostitution, illicit
distillation etc. in their respective areas, provided the criminals remain under their control
and run the activities pro rata to what they proffer to the police. A maffled logic indeed.
Naturally, he was very popular among the corrupt , subordinates. He left the district in
1981 and thereafter luckily went on central deputation, never to return to the state
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