By Rajiv Punj
NEW DELHI: What a response! More than 4000 calls poured in the moment Arvind Kejriwal, the new Chief Minister of the capital of our country, fulfilled his promise of creating a hotline to conduct sting operations to catch corrupt officials.
This shows how frustrated the common man is with the present system. That’s why they are responding with such eagerness to their new ‘messiah’.
Kejriwal’s appeal to each and every citizen of Delhi to work as anti-corruption inspectors to help the government clean the system and make Delhi a model and dream state, is showing the roadmap to a very UNSULLIED and SPARKLING India. Making a phone call as their most LETHAL weapon is certainly a way forward in cleaning the system.
People are fed up with the ever-increasing bribery rates of corrupt officials. Though there is a section of people who think otherwise about this route to root out corruption, I think this is probably the fastest way to spread the message that you are under the scanner.
Some might fear that the common man replacing elected representatives (as decision-makers) is a move which might backfire, but I am sure with intelligent governance this will be a lethal weapon for society.
Residents of Delhi can call the helpline (011-27357169) which is open from 8 am to 10 pm, register their complaint and leave their contact information. Someone will call the complainant and advise them on how to collect supportive evidence. Based on the preliminary evidence, members of the Delhi Vigilance Commission will take it further and conduct their own undercover operation to catch the corrupt.
Legal experts say that evidence collected through an undercover operation could be admissible in court. “It can be considered legal evidence as long as there is sanctity,” says Siddharth Luthra, the additional solicitor general of India. “It is a little controversial, but it has been done.”
Just a reminder that Luthra had represented Aniruddha Bahal, founder and editor of the investigative news site Cobrapost.com which has conducted a series of undercover operations in the past.
Colin Gonsalves, senior advocate of the Supreme Court and director of Human Rights Law Network, has also offered wholehearted support to the chief minister’s initiative.
“It is perfectly legal,” Gonsalves says. “When social change at this scale takes place in a country, you can’t be bound by some technical, obsolete, antiquated rules and regulations.”
Manan Kumar Mishra, chairman of the Bar Council of India, is more qualified in his support, saying that such material has to be subject to scrutiny. “If it is proved beyond all shadow of doubt, then it is valuable as evidence,” he says.
Even the Press Council of India has gone further and issued guidelines for conducting sting operations, which require the editor to be satisfied that the operation is in public interest.
Speaking about whether this method results in the prosecution of corrupt officials, Arvind Kejriwal has said that the mere possibility of a sting operation would serve as a deterrent.
“The idea is to instill fear in the hearts of corrupt individuals,” Arvind Kejriwal has said.
Don’t you also agree that the road to root out the corrupt begins with all the good intentions?
And why shouldn’t you also support this initiative in the interest of all of us – you, me and each and every citizen of our beloved country?
(Rajiv Punj is a Delhi-based senior executive with a multinational)