India moves to protect retired officials from corruption probes

By on 08/11/2016
The Parliament House Building, India

The Indian government is introducing amendments to an anti-corruption bill, in order to give retired civil servants the same protections from prosecution as serving officials. The move follows the suicides of retired official BK Bansal and his wife and children during an anti-corruption probe by the country’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Currently, serving civil servants can’t be prosecuted for corruption in India without the ‘prior sanction’ of their department – and the Indian Administrative Service Officers’ Association (IASOA), which represents the leadership cadre, wants retired officials to enjoy the same rights.

IASOA chair Sanjay Bhoosreddy told Global Government Forum: “We want a legal framework in which bureaucrats can work in a free and fair manner. In its absence, they will shirk from taking decisions and a policy paralysis may set in.” Several other retired officials are currently being investigated by the CBI, and Bhoosreddy argues that officials need greater protection from politically-motivated prosecutions following a change of government.

The IASOA pushed for the amendments in a September meeting with Jitendra Singh, the minister in charge of the Department of Personnel and Training. That meeting followed the deaths of BK Bansal’s wife and daughter in July; and two weeks afterwards, Bansal and his son killed themselves, alleging harassment by the CBI. A CBI spokesperson told Global Government Forum that a senior officer is leading an investigation into the deaths.

The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill has its roots in the anti-corruption movement of 2011, but failed to pass under the last government. In 2014 the Modi administration revived the bill, which includes legal and governance measures including the creation of anti-corruption ombudsmen. It is currently being scrutinized by a select committee of the upper house, Rajya Sabha, which is expected to report during the winter. The bill will also have to pass the lower house before becoming law.

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See also:

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About Abhimanyu Kumar

Abhimanyu Singh is a journalist based in New Delhi, India. He writes on issues related to politics and governance for Indian and foreign media. He was previously with The Hindu and The Sunday Guardian.

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