Karnataka Lokayukta N Santosh Hegde said the need to obtain sanction from a competent authority to prosecute public servants in cases of corruption is weakening the fight against corruption in the country.
Speaking at a session on 'Confronting corruption' at the ongoing Commonwealth Law Conference, he said, "I don't understand the reason for sanction. In 1988, the Parliament amended the Prevention of Corruption Act and made the bribe giver also an offender. Think of a situation. I am a public servant. I demand bribe. You want to get your work done quickly. So you give me a bribe. Both of us are caught by an investigating agency. I require sanction. My disciplinary authority is the Governor and I am very charming to the Governor. I ensure the Governor would not give sanction. You do not require sanction. You are taken straight to the court and prosecuted."
He felt that the need to obtain sanction is against Article 14 of the Constitution that deals with equality of all citizens. Hegde called for making changes in law like doing away with sanction to strengthen the fight against corruption. "These are the changes that is required if really one wants to fight corruption. But who wants to fight corruption. Once you are in power, you are not interested in fighting corruption," he said.
"Recently in Karnataka, the Governor granted sanction to prosecute the chief minister and it created a great ruckus," he said. The government brought about certain amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act in 2008 according to which three sections that were helping the prosecuting agencies were sought to be removed, he said. The amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act were brought along with 16 other bills which were passed in 12 minutes by the Lok Sabha, he said.
He also favoured treating corruption as a violation of human rights and boycotting corrupt people. Hedge regretted the slow pace of trial in corruption cases. Responding to a suggestion that the properties of the corrupt should be confiscated, he said it may not be possible. Corruption would come down by 50 per cent if trial and conviction or acquittal takes place in six months, he said. "Conviction or acquittal should be over in six monthsif possible," he said. Evidences Act and other laws should be amended to ensure a speedy trial, he said.