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Saam, Daam... a little more Daam
The legal environment reflects the larger shame of Indian venality

Were you feeling proud lately on how India’s banking system could teach US banks a thing or two about asset management? Well, the India growth story now also has lessons for the World Bank, but not in the manner you would be imagining. The World Bank initiated India Detailed Implementation Review (DIR) has exposed corruption in Indian health projects and has learned how to better tackle corruption in public procurement. Five out of five projects it studied in India (2006) were deemed to be extremely vulnerable to fraud. No wonder then that India ranks 103 out of 201 countries in the World Bank’s ‘control of corruption’ indicator for 2008.

Quite unfortunately, the malaise has spread wide and deep. Take, for instance, the entire arena of law enforcement. The country’s domestic investigating and law enforcing agencies are often accused of being sleazy, negligent, and flat inefficient. There is no dearth of shameful stories of negligence and corruption. The entire country was shocked when Manu Sharma, the accused in the Jessica Lal murder case, was acquitted by Delhi High Court. The accusation clearly pointed towards the Joint Police Commissioner for tampering evidence and trying to hush up the case. There was strong demand to involve CBI, but that was turned down too at that time.

CBI, too, is not beyond blame; its inefficiency was clear, for instance, in the Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case. The accused was let-off due to lack of evidence. The judge called it ‘deliberate inaction’ by the investigating agency. Then the kidney racket in Gurgaon led by Dr. Amit Kumar comes to mind. As per indications, he was tipped off by some insiders about possible police action (which helped him escape, though he was later caught). It is immaterial to call ourselves a rising superpower if we can’t provide swift, fair and efficient justice.

By:- Sayan Ghosh

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