Welcome address by Director, CBI on the occasion of inauguration of the XVIII Biennial Conference of Heads of State Anti Corruption Bureaux And CBI 21st October 2011

1. Hon'ble Prime Minister;
2. Hon'ble Home Minister;
3. Hon'ble Law Minister;
4. Hon'ble Minister for Personnel;
5. Adviser to the P.M.
6. Secretary, Personnel,
7. Distinguished guests and delegates to the Conference;
8. Award Winners;
9. Members of the Media; and
10. Ladies and gentleman.

         

          1. It is my proud privilege to extend a very warm welcome to all of you to this 18th Biennial Conference of the Heads of State Anti Corruption Bureaux and the CBI.

          2. First and foremost, I would like to pay my homage on this Police Commemoration Day to all our colleagues who have died fighting terrorism, left wing extremism and various crimes in all parts of the country. In the last year alone there have been 636 police men who died on duty. On behalf of this gathering, I salute all those martyrs who laid down their lives for the country and are remembered on this day.

          3. The Hon'ble Prime Minister has always been in the forefront of the fight against corruption and has spared no efforts to bring probity and integrity in the system. Being not only a great statesman and able administrator, he is above all a person of impeccable integrity. We are extremely grateful to him for having consented to inaugurate this Conference.

          4. This Conference held every two years enables the Anti corruption agencies in various States and the CBI to interact on a professional level, share ideas, best practices and explore new modalities and techniques to fight corruption. This is also an opportunity to assess our strengths and weaknesses and formulate effective strategies.

          5. During the last Conference held in 2009, certain Resolutions were passed. The house would be pleased to note that a number of these Resolutions have resulted in positive action. To mention a few, the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption, introduction of Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and officials of Public International Organisation Bill, introduction of Whistle Blowers Bill and grant of financial incentives to ACB officials in a number of states.

          6. There are certain major impediments faced by Anti-corruption Agencies. Section 6(A) of DSPE Act, 1946 does not allow CBI to conduct an enquiry or investigation into offences committed by an officer of the rank of Joint Secretary and above without the prior permission of the Government. There are also delays in getting sanction for prosecution, execution of Letters Rogatory and requests for investigation of offences abroad. Another major impediment is the delays in trial of cases. CBI alone has 10,000 cases pending trial.

          7. The menace of corruption cannot be tackled through anti-corruption agencies alone but a multi-dimensional approach is required.

          8. Corruption at the grass root level which mostly affects the lives of the average citizen is a result of an imbalance in the demand and supply of goods. We have seen, that with improvement in service delivery in certain sectors such as Telecom, Aviation and gas connections for households, opportunities for indulging in corrupt practices have greatly reduced. This shows that if we are able to cater to the daily needs of our citizens and also minimize their interface with the bureaucracy, we could insulate them to a large extent from the phenomenon of corruption.

          9. There is also a need for educating the younger generation. CBI has already made a humble beginning for creating awareness among school children by organizing regular visits of school children to CBI Headquarters. The government may like to consider introducing moral science and ethic classes in the curriculum of schools and colleges to strengthen the moral fabric of society.

          10. Because of the public trust and credibility that CBI enjoys, there has been an increasing demand from the constitutional courts and state governments for CBI investigations into a variety of crimes. However, it becomes difficult for CBI to meet such challenges on account of scarcity of resources. Recently, CBI has submitted a proposal to the government for additional man power mainly to increase the strength of investigating officers. Augmentation of manpower and greater functional autonomy for CBI is the need of the hour to keep pace with growing expectations of the higher judiciary, government and the common man.

          11. Recent cases such as 2G, CWG, and the introduction of the Lokpal Bill in Parliament have initiated a national debate on corruption. This is the opportune moment to strengthen and functionally empower the existing Anti Corruption agencies to realize their full potential. One of the draft bills for the Lokpal envisages merger of the Anti-corruption wing of CBI with the Lokpal. Given the composite nature of CBI which is its intrinsic strength, I am of the firm belief that such a proposal is neither practical nor advisable.

          12. In any effort to strengthen the mechanism to combat corruption, CBI must be an integral and independent component. I would again strongly advocate that at no cost should the CBI be bifurcated or divested of its anti-corruption mandate.

          13. The State ACBx have a mandate to deal with corruption at the State and local level. Therefore, their reach is much greater and they play a vital role in combating corruption at the grass root level. It is this corruption which affects the common man the most and thus calls for greater attention. Recently, demonstrating their commitment against graft, some State ACBx have sent a strong message. In Bihar, the house of one senior officer, accused of having disproportionate assets, was attached and converted into a school. Similarly, commendable work was done in Karnataka in probing the role of powerful people involved in illegal mining. We must share these success stories and other best practices with each other to benefit mutually.

          14. During this two-day Conference, we will dwell upon various challenges that anti-corruption agencies face. Kofi Annan once said "corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining governance, the ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign investment and aid". We need to deliberate the key-areas where prevalence of corruption affects the general masses and disrupts the whole process of governance. The Government allocates large amounts of public money in rural and social sector schemes and programmes, but leakages and corruption in their implementation blunts the edge of such programmes, depriving the targeted beneficiaries.

          15. The issues of severe and deterrent punitive action against public servants, preventive vigilance and capacity building of Investigating Officers would also receive our attention. A special session is also proposed for discussion on simplifying provisions regarding the attachment of the properties of corrupt public servants.

          16. We are aware that there is today a mood of increasing intolerance to corruption in the country. To quote Edmund Burke "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for a few good men to do nothing". Therefore, this is the opportune moment to formulate our strategies to take action against all the corrupt elements in our society and deliver positive results. We cannot afford to be passive spectators.

          17. I would also like to quote what Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri said during a debate in Parliament on allegations of corruption against certain Ministers. He said "We, who are privileged to hold public offices and positions of responsibility should always fully realize the need for the maintenance of the right standards of conduct. Only then will we deserve public confidence and support". It is, therefore, important for all of us holding high public office to maintain the highest standards of probity and conduct.

          18. Finally, I would like to congratulate all the award winners and their families and to say that we are all extremely proud of them and we hope that they will continue to earn laurels for their organization and the country in future as well.