There is today no dearth of political will to act against corruption and officers should take action against the corrupt, however powerful, without any hesitation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.
Addressing a gathering at the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the prime minister said the agency has developed as a brand of “truth and justice” over the last 60 years. Terming corruption the biggest roadblock to democracy and justice, he said the agency’s key responsibility is to free India from it.
Stressing that the CBI should not be distracted by those trying to tarnish its image, Modi said a developed India is not possible without professional and efficient institutions and this puts a huge responsibility on the agency.
The CBI’s chief responsibility, he said, is to rid the country of corruption.
“Corruption is not an ordinary crime, it snatches the rights of the poor, it begets many other crimes, corruption is the biggest obstacle in the path of justice and democracy,” he said.
He asked the CBI to devise ways to fast-track its investigations against the corrupt because a languishing probe gives a sense of safety to the corrupt while innocent people keep suffering.
Those who benefitted from corruption for decades have created an ecosystem that attacks probe agencies. But the agencies should not be deterred by stories about the power of the corrupt and their ecosystem to tarnish them, Modi said.
“These people will keep distracting you, but you have to focus on your work. No corrupt person should be spared. There should be no laxity in our efforts. This is the wish of the country, this is the wish of the people of the country. The country, law and constitution are with you,” the prime minister said.
“Today there is no dearth of political will to take action against corruption in the country. You should not hesitate to take action (against the corrupt), however powerful…,” he told the gathering of CBI officers and personnel.
The CBI was established by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs on April 1, 1963.
Referring to international transactions and the movement of people, goods and services on a large scale, even outside geographical boundaries, Modi said India’s economic power is growing while those who create obstacles are also rising.
He warned that attacks on India’s social fabric, its unity and brotherhood, and its economic interests and institutions would also increase.
“Corruption money will be spent on this,” the prime minister said, stressing the need to understand and study the multinational nature of crime and corruption.
Modi said India got a legacy of corruption at the time of Independence and lamented the fact that some people kept nourishing this malady instead of removing it.
While a discussion on trillion dollars refers to a strong economy these days, a decade ago, when the CBI celebrated its golden jubilee, such figures were used to describe scams in the country, he said.
“There was a competition underway on who will set a new record of corruption,” he said. The scams and the prevailing sense of impunity led to the destruction of the system, and an atmosphere of policy paralysis brought development to a standstill.
He said Internet banking and UPI stand in stark contrast to the earlier “phone banking” malaise, where loans worth thousands of crores of rupees were sanctioned on the basis of phone calls from influential people.
The beneficiaries scooted away with the public money, the prime minister said. He said the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act has so far enabled the confiscation of Rs 20,000 crore worth of properties of fugitive offenders.
Modi said the corrupt would even go to the extent of looting the aid given to beneficiaries of government schemes, be it rations, homes, scholarships or pensions, and the original beneficiary would feel conned every time.
Modi said the beneficiaries of government schemes are now getting their full entitlement due to the trinity of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and mobile, and more than eight crore fake beneficiaries have been removed from the system.
“Due to DBT (direct benefit transfer), about Rs 2.25 lakh crore has been saved from falling into wrong hands,” he said.
The prime minister said it was the resolve of his government after assuming office in 2014 to launch a crackdown on corruption and benami properties, and it started to act against these evils on mission mode.
The prime minister said even today when a case remains unsolved, there are demands for it to be handed over to the CBI.
The CBI has given faith to people through its work and techniques, he said.
“CBI’s name is on everyone’s lips. It is like a brand for truth and justice. Even at the panchayat level, if some major crime happens, people want it to be referred to the CBI,” he said.
Modi said wherever there is corruption, the youth don’t get equal opportunities, and just one special eco-system gets emboldened.
Terming corruption the biggest enemy of merit, he said corruption gives encouragement to nepotism and dynastic rule.
When nepotism and dynastic rule increase, the country’s strength gets affected, and when the country’s strength gets weakened, it hampers development, he said.
The prime minister conferred medals on the recipients of the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service and Gold Medal for Best Investigating Officers of the CBI during the programme. He also virtually inaugurated the newly constructed office complexes of CBI in Shillong, Pune and Nagpur, released a postage stamp and commemorative coin, and launched the Twitter handle of the CBI.
Among those present were Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and CBI Director Subodh Kumar Jaiswal.
The bureau has evolved from an agency combating corruption to a multidisciplinary investigative and prosecuting organisation of international repute, Jaiswal said. PTI
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