Anti-Corruption Measures being Taken in Modi 2.0 Era
“Mein Na Khaoonga Na Khane Doonga” – I will not be corrupt nor will I allow anyone else to be corrupt, is the famous statement made by Narendra Modi when he first took over as India’s prime minister.
It was a strong statement of intent and commitment in 2014, coming in the backdrop of a slew of major corruption scandals that came to light in the UPA II regime. People were fed up with corruption at the highest levels of government, which included both politicians and bureaucrats.
Lots of investigation and no action forced people to place their bet on Narendra Modi when they pressed the finger on the EVM button that brought him to power in 2014. It was a mandate for a better future and a corruption-free government. Five years on, PM Modi delivered on his promise.
The last five years have been largely free of corruption charges, barring the Rafale controversy. People have once again reposed their faith in the man and his team to give the nation another five years of corruption-free governance.
Modi 2.0 has started on an even louder statement of intent with a strong show of commitment to the fight against corruption. Within 15 days of being sworn in, the new government has initiated strong action against the corrupt and the non-performing bureaucrats.
And the axe falls
Three strong actions have shaken the length and breadth of the bureaucratic machinery at both the centre and the state level. The message is loud and clear – the good old days of corruption and favouritism are over, and the long hands of the law will reach you, whosoever you are and wherever you are.
On June 8, 2019, the Jammu and Kashmir government, which is under President’s Rule, removed Parvez Ahmad, Managing Director-cum-Chairman of J&K Bank from office. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) raided his offices and home and have filed an F.I.R against Ahmad.
Ahmad was no ordinary person. He was powerful and influential within the social-political circles in the valley. The PDP-BJP government appointed Ahmad in October 2016 and he was removed five months before completing his term. The move took many in the state by surprise, as they were used to living with corruption in their daily lives.
The move has had the desired impact. All working in the government have got the message loud and clear-it won’t be business as usual under Modi 2.0.
The next big move against corruption came on June 11, when the Finance ministry announced it had compulsorily retired 12 officers from the Income Tax department invoking Fundamental Rule 56(j) of Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972.
They face various charges including corruption, showing undue favours to select businesses and individuals, amassing illegal and disproportionate movable and immovable assets, and sexual harassment.
Also, four Joint Commissioner rank Income Tax officers were demoted to the rank of Deputy Commissioner. They were facing various charges of corruption.
Under this rule, civil servants can be compulsorily retired. But successive governments have not resorted to this rule, which resulted in several bureaucrats taking their positions for granted, giving way to complacency and corruption.
The list of officers shown the door include:
- Ashok Agarwal, Joint Commissioner who has serious charges of corruption against him.
- SK Srivastava, Commissioner (Appeal), Noida. He faces charges of sexual harassment levied by two Commissioner rank female colleagues.
- BB Rajendra Prasad, IRS. He is accused of passing favourable orders to certain businesses in return for financial gratification.
- Homi Rajvansh, IRS. He is accused of amassing illegal movable and immovable assets exceeding Rs 3 crore.
The heat steps up
The dust of action had barely settled when on June 18 the government once again resorted to Rule 56(j) to dismiss 15 IRS officers of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) on charges of bribery and corruption.
The dismissed CBIC officers include,
- Anup Srivastava, Principal Commissioner
- Nalin Kumar, Joint Commissioner
- Sansar Chand, Commissioner Kolkata
- G Shree Harsha, Commissioner Chennai
- Vinay Brij Singh, Commissioner
- Atul Dikshit, Commissioner
- Ashok R Mahida, Additional Commissioner
The message: Shape up or Ship out
Successive governments were guilty of allowing the malaise of corruption to pervade the rank and file of the bureaucratic machinery; inaction only emboldened the corrupt. No more. Modi 2.0 means business and the pressure will remain relentless.