Corruption is probably the biggest issue exercising public opinion. Even high prices are traced to corruption. The government’s failure to crack down against corruption is easily the biggest public grouse against authority. Former ministers charged with corruption and on bail freely travel to foreign lands. Corrupt politicians are made governors to protect them from prosecution. Charge sheets against corrupt politicians and court cases drag on for years. The largest amount of black money illegally deposited in foreign banks belongs to Indians and nobody in government seems able or willing to retrieve it. Top leaders exposed by respected foreign media for having accepted money from foreign governments and having huge Swiss bank accounts are never questioned. The list of woes seems endless. However now there are incidents of authorities pursuing corruption with double zero tolerance - but in Indian style!
There is this current case of the police officer who was commended for honesty for refusing a bribe of Rs. one lakh to help cover up a theft. Days later the same officer was charged with accepting a bribe of Rs. 1000 from a three wheeler rickshaw driver. Was the officer’s earlier honesty embarrassing the politician because recovery of money could not be accounted by the politician and therefore the subsequent bribery charge against the officer? It seems India’s unique fight against corruption will remain mysterious.
But this case pales into insignificance compared to the fight against corruption launched by the Delhi Transport Authority (DTC). A bus conductor, Mr. Ranvir Singh was confronted by a flying squad of ticket checkers who discovered that he had undercharged one passenger by 5 paise. The squad charged him with encouraging ticketless travel on the DTC. A departmental enquiry found Mr. Singh guilty of defrauding the public exchequer of 5 paise. He was dismissed from service. This happened 41 years ago in 1971. Mr. Singh appealed in a labour court which ordered DTC to re-employ him. Undeterred, our warriors against corruption appealed in the Delhi High Court which also dismissed the case against Mr. Singh in 2008. But DTC
officials persisted with a review petition saying that anyone who cheated the government cannot go free. The court will hear the petition on August 10.
If the court exonerates Mr. Ranvir Singh one fervently hopes he will sue the DTC for damages of not less than Rs. 10 crore. That would be a very small price to pay for harassment, mental torture, loss of job and ruination of an entire life. Meanwhile, DTC is trying to recover Rs. 70 crore from Delhi police for unpaid use of their bus service by policemen allowed to travel ticketless. But then, police represent the law, do they not? And the fight against corruption must obey representatives of law, should it not?