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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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dated July 31, 1951: SPE's role against corruption

The Home Minister, Mr. C. Rajagopalachari, inaugurated in New Delhi on the 30th a two-day conference of the Special Police Establishment of the Government of India. He observed: ``The SPE's tasks are of great responsibility and delicacy. Rules and regulations help to some extent in carrying them out. But personal exchange of views from time to time will also greatly assist you. You have to deal with very high Government officers who are normally entitled to be above suspicion. Enquiring into and investigating, such officers can be quite embarrassing. No one can claim that police in general, or your establishment in particular, is morally superior to other departments. Yet someone has to enquire into malpractices among Government officers. Here is something of a vicious circle. Who will deal, one may ask, with corruption in the SPE itself? Yet we must begin somewhere and entrust the work to someone. I am glad that after ten years of experience no question has been raised about the propriety of your department's enquiring into the conduct of other departmental officials. ... Governmental activity has now largely increased. With such extension, dishonesty and corrupt practices find new environments. It is not fair to compare the behaviour of officers in the present enlarged administration with that in the old days. Even now, honest officers are more numerous than corrupt officers. But this cannot be sufficient answer to the demand that there should be little or no corruption in a free country under a civilised Government. Some voices demand drastic remedies to check corruption. But we must respect the rule that there should be clear and convincing evidence before a man can be found guilty. We cannot do away with the rules of procedure that ensure natural justice. We cannot resort to summary trials depriving the accused of effective opportunity to defend themselves. These are some of the difficulties in the way of weeding out corruption. We must maintain the foundations of our criminal jurisprudence. At the same time, Government should not be compelled to keep in its service and invest with authority persons about whose conduct there is grave suspicion. Government should be able, on substantial grounds, to dispense with such officers and divest them of authority, though the grounds may not be sufficient to imprison them.''

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