There is nothing new in the latest instructions issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to various Union ministries that they should not delay the permission to prosecute the public servants facing corruption charges. Fresh instructions were issued merely because the Supreme Court had last week pronounced that decision to grant permission to prosecute the corrupt officials must be given within four months. The Apex Court pronounced the verdict in the context of delay in allowing the prosecution of former Telecom Minister A Raja. It is very unfortunate that the permission to prosecute A Raja was delayed by the Prime Minister’s Office. If the top administration in the country shows laxity in taking action against the corrupt officials then casual approach at the lower rung of administration is pretty obvious. There is not an iota of doubt that DoPT’s fresh instructions will not be able to achieve anything. The instructions have been sent only to show that the government is earnest in taking action against the corrupt after the verdict of the Apex Court. What was the DoPT doing until now? Are they not aware that the PMO was in the dock and even had to file an affidavit and it was only after that the court pronounced the verdict and fixed a four months deadline for deciding on the prosecution of the corrupt officials.

Even earlier, the court had fixed the deadline for action against corrupt officials. In Vineet Narayan vs Government of India case, the Apex Court had clarified that the decision to prosecute the officials faced with corruption charges must be taken within three months. Alongwith the DoPT, the Union Government and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) were aware of the court’s ruling. However, the fact is that the CVC has time and again raised the issue of Central government’s denial in permitting the prosecution of the corrupt officials but the government had always preferred to ignore such appeals. In several cases even the CVC expressed its helplessness in prosecuting the corrupt officials faced with severe charges because they failed to get the permission from the government. The Central government must take this in account that their attitude to delay or defer permission to prosecute corrupt officials has resulted in a long list of such officials. Surprisingly, all the Union ministries and departments have similar record of refusing the permission for prosecution of the corrupt lot. The government must acknowledge the fact that until and unless they stop shielding the corrupt officials, their commitment to check the scams and scandals will continue to be questioned.