Lokayukta vital to curb graft, says Prez

But Pranab warns against vilification

 President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday asked states that are yet to set up the office of the Lokayukta to do so at the earliest since “it is imperative to have a watchdog” over the functioning of the executive.

He said Lokayuktas should not be seen as “interfering” by the executive, but as an equal and important partner to check the menace of corruption. But he cautioned against “vilification campaigns” to defame or destroy reputations in the name of checking graft.

“Enormous financial explosion is taking place in the country these days, and huge amount of money is being spent on development and industrialisation all around. And if this financial expenditure is not monitored, it is not good. I have learnt that so far only 19 states have established the office of the Lokayukta. I ask all the remaining states to do so at the earliest,” said Mukherjee in his inaugural address at the three-day 11th All India Lokayuktas Conference.

He said policies must be formulated and implemented by honest people for democracy to function properly.

There is an urgent need to strengthen institutes (like Lokayukta) that have been established to eradicate corruption.

Mukherjee also asked Lokayuktas to not go overboard. “Lokayukta should realise that their function is not just to indict government functionaries but also to protect them if allegations against them are found to be false after investigation,” said Mukherjee, adding Lokayuktas must earn the confidence of people.

On the relationship between the state government and the Lokayukta, Mukherjee said the Lokayukta should not be seen as interfering but as an assistance to good governance.

“The state should not see them as interfering. In fact, the institute of Lokayukta is
assistance in good governance.”

Union ministers Ashwani Kumar and V Narayanasamy, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna, Supreme Court Judge R M Lodha and Delhi Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin also addressed the conference.

Kumar and Narayanasamy recalled the UPA government’s endeavours to fight corruption and its commitment to eradicate it completely. Justice Sarin demanded more financial autonomy for the office of Lokayukta.

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