Friday, February 18, 2011

Here’s what a determined man can do…

Here’s what a determined man can do…: "

Excerpts from Bribeless In Bihar, a remarkable report on how things are changing in a state widely reviled as amongst the worst governed in India. There is still hope. Read on (emphasis added)…

It was clear to Nitish Kumar that merely catching a culprit was not enough. A major handicap was that under the Prevention of Corruption Act, vigilance officials had to get clearance to prosecute an errant bureaucrat from his own department. That took time. He realised that the only way to deter corruption was to take away the wealth itself — ASAP. Kumar put his then attorney general P.K. Sahi on the job.

…After consulting experts and studying the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Sahi prepared a draft bill by the end of 2008 and it was passed by the Bihar Assembly in February 2009. It then languished in the union home and law ministries for a year…(and) was eventually signed into law by the President in March 2010.

…the Act comes into play when investigating agencies are convinced that an official owns assets in excess of his known sources of income. Now, even as it pursues a corruption case against an official, the state separately seeks to take control of the assets owned by the person. Bihar has set up six special courts that exclusively deal with this.

The vigilance department files a declaration with a special court that the target has amassed unexplained wealth. The special courts then conduct speedy trials and decide within six months whether the property should be confiscated or not. The property would be returned with interest (at 5 percent annually) if the person is acquitted.

…A.K. Chauhan, principal secretary, vigilance, says that he has not come across any instance of politicians or high-level officials trying to influence a case. “They know that we report to the CM. So there has not been any attempt so far,” says Chauhan..

“MLAs have also been warned that they should not call up officers directly and try to influence these cases. The Chief Minister has made it clear within his own party as well that he will not tolerate anyone trying to influence the officers,” says Rajya Sabha member Ali Anwar, who is considered to be a close confidant of Nitish Kumar. The results are yet to show, but the tremors are already being felt.

…Nitish Kumar’s two terms, when he first re-established law and order and then began weeding out corruption, have brought new hope to Biharis in the state and those living outside.

…Academician Shaibal Gupta, considered an expert on governance in Bihar, says tough times are ahead for bureaucrats. Next the state is planning to enact a Right to Services law to ensure efficient government service. Officials will be punished for failure to provide time-bound service.

Pl read it in full here. Thanks to Raj Kamireddi for the link.

Related Posts: First Shashi Tharoor, next Kathlal now Nitish Kumar and the NDA alliance… and Good Governance Matters