Accountability matters

Towards a corruption-free system where a common man doesn’t suffer

Our state against all odds has succeeded in establishing institutions to safeguard impartiality and accountability within the administration and for the last more than a decade, these institutions have evolved to the level of credible organizations of fairness.

As a humble Kashmiri with very little access to higher echelons of administration and corridors of power,  I know very little how efficient and genuine administration should look like and how honest and impartial polity should be? But as a common man, I must have a better sense of corruption-free administration and an unbiased political system. In a contemporary era where we conceitedly claim to be more empowered and accountable, how far we have been able to deliver impartial governance only time will tell? Undoubtedly, accountability is the essence of independent societies. However, it has to be flawless and without any coercion from either side, otherwise, it will prove inimical to fundamentals of impartiality.  And the worst falls when systems of transparency are misused, misinterpreted or derailed by none other than the people who require the doses of accountability more and the most.    

Our state against all odds has succeeded in establishing institutions to safeguard impartiality and accountability within the administration and for the last more than a decade, these institutions have evolved to the level of credible organizations of fairness. State Accountability Commission and the State Vigilance Commission are more prominent institutions of accountability and to augment better transparency the State Information Commission has also established its writ with authority. Earlier these institutions had to face a lot and a substantial part of their powers got curtailed or squeezed. Anyway, whatever is left within the authoritative structure of these Commissions is at present being finely used by their custodians. However, beyond the choice and likings of state actors and the state itself, the effectiveness of these institutions rests more on the people for whom these institutions were conceived and effectively shaped—the oppressed and the demoralized lot. Regrettably, very fewer people know about these institutions and many of those who know and approach for justice are not well versed with the system and are unable to make proper use of it. There are several reasons for all this but the most prominent are these institutions itself are not well equipped or empowered to enlighten people about their role and working pattern. Remarkably, the earlier apprehensions and antagonism against these establishments within the administration seems to have diluted a lot now, but more patronage is imperative for the success of this transparency mission from almost all branches of the administration.
Among the masses, two sets of people are making these commissions less-effective or at occasions ineffective. One section wastes much time and energy of these institutions in absence of knowledge of prescribed rules regarding jurisdiction and procedure. For instance, after change in prescribed rules the State Accountability Commission is authorized only to listen and take cognizance of matters related to public functionaries and the term ‘public functionary’ is specifically defined in revised rules. But, unfortunately, most of the applications filed and pending before the commission are either related to other than public functionaries or otherwise does not pertain to the commission thus much of Commission’s time gets wasted in disposing of such applications lacking jurisdiction and procedure. While others derail this process because of their sick agenda of facilitating the guilty and are out to fail the whole system of transparency. Anonymous and frivolous complaints are the worst cases of deliberate attempts to mislead the overall accountability and transparency system within the administration and these commissions are no exception to face such menace. For long this state is in the perilous grip of corrupt and to dampen all sort of action against corruption and favouritism the corrupt mafia always tries to be a step ahead. Their modus operandi is simple but effective—they exploit legal loopholes, initiate a malicious campaign against the genuine activists and pump contentious complaints to choke the system. Several deterrents are there in place to discourage and penalize the malicious and non-serious complaints but more needs to be done to have effective deterrents. The government should revisit the rules of almost all commissions of accountability and transparency and incorporate strict provisions of penalty to discourage exploiters who otherwise are smart enough to weaken the institutions of responsibility. Presiding officers of commissions of fairness are also well within their right and jurisdiction of natural justice and justified application of existing rules not only to discourage entertaining the anonymous and frivolous complaints but come down heavily on such elements of deceit with harsher penalties.