Without Independent Anti-corruption Commission corruption cannot be stopped
Hafizur Rahman Karzon
has become an inextricable global problem creating difficulties for
development and good governance. Keeping administrative functions of
the governments and activities of political parties at the centre corruption
has taken strong hold in all the countries, both developed and developing.
Not only the third world countries are encountering this problem, even
the developed countries like Japan, France, Italy, U.S.A. etc. are experiencing
the vice of corruption. All the countries have been taking various measures
to combat corruption, some measures have been proven very effective.
has again been listed as the most corrupt country in the world, a rare
success (?) that has been achieved by this delta land for the consecutive
third time. It may furnish some sort of complacency (!) for those people
who contain agony for continuous poor performance of Bangladesh in all
the sectors. The publication of the ranking of the most corrupt countries
by the Transparency International brought corruption and its multifarious
implications on the table of discussion. Here I try to focus anti-corruption
measures of some foreign countries and to make a critical analysis of
the Anti-Corruption Commission Bill, 2003 (of Bangladesh) awaiting approval
of Parliament and President.
Measures of U.S.A., U.K., and Hong Kong
The United States of America is fighting corruption for long time. Nearly
15,000 people have been convicted under the federal corruption statutes
in the last two decades. In Illinois it was Operation Gambit, in Tennessee
it was Rocky Top, in South Carolina Operation Lost Trust and in Chicago
Operation Silver Shovel. Under these operations corruption of hundreds
of federal, state and local officials were investigated. Huge amount
of money is required to secure an elected office, that's why politicians
take money from different interest groups. This is the main cause of
political corruption. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other
investigators are now experiencing new offences like extortion, mail
fraud and racketeering.
the civilised and democratic countries the public servants form a class
by themselves and require special protection of law and subject to rigorous
penalties if they deviate from the corresponding duties and obligations.
They are the main actors by whom law and administrative policies are
being executed, so usually they are accorded with many privileges and
immunities. Moreover, they are not directly responsible to Parliament.
The administrative officers develop corrupt practices by taking advantage
of these privileges and lack of proper accountability to any other body
of the state. Mal-administration, abuse of power and corrupt practices
of bureaucrats cause unbearable suffering to the citizens of different
strata. Neither court nor any tribunal can offer any remedy. Many of
them remain unredressed due to the malfunctioning or nonfunctioning
of the existing remedy giving mechanism.
and rule of law administered by a responsible government can ensure
a corruption free administration. This type of government can protect
rights of the citizens effectively on the one hand, and ensure overall
development of the country by keeping corruption unpenetrated into the
administration on the other. The responsibility and accountability of
government, in the United Kingdom, for long has been ensured by parliamentary
questions, vote of censure, cut motion, adjournment motion, no-confidence
motion and by committee system. All these modes of scrutinising the
activities of administration had become ineffective which paved the
way for passing the Parliamentary Commissioner Act, 1967. By this law
a Parliamentary Commissioner with independent status was appointed in
the United Kingdom whose functions would be to similar to those of the
Ombudsman known to the Scandinavian countries. Later on three offices
of Health Service Commissioners for England, Wales and Scotland were
established in 1972 and 1973. Two Commissioners for Local Administration,
one for England and one for Wales were appointed under the Local Government
Act, 1974. The Commissioners were appointed for minimizing mal-administration
and corrupt practices of governmental departments and authorities.
context of unprecedented corruption an Independent Commission Against
Corruption (ICAC) was formed in Hong Kong in 1973. Since its inception
the ICAC have been directing its 'war' against corruption very efficiently.
In course of time this organisation has been recognised as the best
anti-corruption unit in the world. It continues its functions with the
aid of three departments. With a purpose (1) to investigate the allegations
of corruption ICAC does its activities through the Operations Department;
(2) to prevent corruption through the efforts of the Corruption Prevention
Department; and (3) to educate through the Community Relations Department.
of the high reputation achieved by the Hong Kong Independent Commission
Against Corruption lies in the fact that every allegation of corruption
which is pursuable, no matter how small, will be investigated and worked
out. Within the system of ICAC the confidentiality of sources from which
reports of corruption come have been protected. In fact ICAC has been
given draconian powers to achieve its goal. Following the model of Hong
Kong, ICAC of New South Wales of Australia and Directorate on Corruption
and Economic Crime of Botswana were set up. On the basis of its good
record "the ICAC (of Hong Kong) has been described as the Rolls
Royce of anti-corruption agencies."
Analysis of the Anti-Corruption Bill, 2003
Corruption has penetrated its teeth into different level of society.
Corruption has grown to such an extent that it has become an unofficial
truth in the every day life of Bangladesh. From top executive to the
lowest staff are coming within the extensive jurisdiction of corruption.
Corrupt practice is frequent in business world, political arena, media
and even in judiciary. Corruption is a major obstacle in the way of
achieving true development of Bangladesh. It constitutes the largest
cause for which reputation of Bangladesh is severely suffering in foreign
countries. In this context present government has introduced the Anti-Corruption
Commission Bill, 2003.
with the provisions of the Bill, Commissioners of the Anti-Corruption
Commission shall be appointed by the President from among persons nominated
by the Select Committee. Here Select Committee has been consigned a
heavy responsibility of finalising a list of six persons from whom the
President shall appoint three persons as Commissioners. There shall
be six members of the Select Committee among whom four shall be government
functionaries. They are Finance Minister, Minister for Law, Justice
and Parliamentary Affairs, Comptroller and Auditor-General of Bangladesh
and Chairman of the Public Service Commission [Sections 5, 6 and 7 of
the Anti-Corruption Commission Bill]. Here people associated with government
constitute clear majority. They can easily execute the will of the government.
This, in my view, is the major weakness of the proposed Bill. Because
the selection of the Commissioners should be neutral and fair. Otherwise
the people in the good book of the government shall be appointed as
Commissioners who will let the government tension free and ensure that
government will not be disturbed. In all the countries corruption takes
strong hold encompassing the governmental functions and administrative
activities. So, the Commission as an institution and the Commissioners
as individuals should keep vigilant eye on the governmental activities.
So, the selection of the Commissioners should be independent of government.
Representative of government may be member of the Select Committee,
but they must not constitute the majority.
providing for the tenure, qualification and disqualification and procedure
concerning the removal of the Commissioners are good. Regarding qualification
of the Commissioners only experience has been emphasized. The matter
of integrity, honesty, sincerity and high reputation should be taken
into account and included in the concerned provision.
18 of the proposed Anti-Corruption Commission Bill enumerates the functions
of the Commission. The list has been presented in a generalised form
without specifying the responsibility what functions shall be disposed
of by whom and by which department. The Bill should have provided that
the Commission would have three departmentsone for the investigation
of the offences of corruption, one for the prevention of corruption,
one for making the people conscious about the bad consequences of the
31 of the Bill provides that, previous sanction of the Commission shall
be required to file a suit of corruption. This provision should be more
elaborate in providing the rationale and guideline of granting sanction.
Previous approval of the Commission in filing a suit shall be required
to protect the honest public servants from harassment, at the same time
no public servant shall take advantage of the provision that should
with the provision of section 33 the Bureau of anti-Corruption shall
be abolished, but its infrastructure, officers and staffs will be attached
with the Commission. In this context an apprehension is mountingwill
the legacy of the Bureau cloud the starting of the Commission?
We, the people of Bangladesh, are experiencing social instability
and total anarchy. Social transition, titanic inequality, crminalisation
of politics and economics, lack of good governanceall the factors give
rise to this total anarchy. Moreover, private profit economy and satellite
culture has developed a consumerist ethos, which causes high rate of
criminality and corruption. We require some strong institutions (like
Anti-Corruption Commission, Ombudsman etc.) to fight corruption. Simultaneously
lesson of honesty and ethics should be given to every child from their
home and other institutions of the society. Otherwise the eradication
of corruption will remain a distant dream as it remains now.
Hafizur Rahman Karzon is a Lecturer, Department of Law, Dhaka University.