In a democracy, how can a person merely because he is holding an office be excluded from prosecution, asked the erstwhile Lokayukta from Karnataka
New Delhi: There is nothing wrong in bringing the Prime Minister under the jurisdiction of Lokpal as like others he is also a public servant, reports PTI quoting former Supreme Court Judge and erstwhile Karnataka Lokayukta N Santosh Hegde.
"What is wrong in the Lokpal having jurisdiction over the Prime Minister? Is the Prime Minister not a public servant? Aren't there cases of corruption against PMs in other countries? In Japan, you find every other year a Prime Minister is prosecuted. (Former US President Richard) Nixon was prosecuted... What is so great about the PM?," he asked
Noting that the position of the Lokpal was akin to "giving a dog a bad name and kicking it", he said there have been allegations of corruption against Indian PMs in the past and added that only the President and Governors are excluded from being prosecuted and not the PM.
"We have had allegations of corruption against two former PMs - Bofors and the JMM bribery case. In a democracy, how can a person merely because he is holding an office be excluded from prosecution? The Constitution excludes the prosecution of the President and the Governors in some cases...One can't apply the same principle on a man who passes executive orders on a daily basis," he told PTI.
Responding to a query as to how he expects Arvind Kejriwal's newly-launched 'Aam Aadmi Party' to perform, Hegde raised doubts about its success saying it was not an "easy job".
"My only apprehension is how far a political party will survive because of the very many demands of the political system, these days. It requires a huge amount of money to elect nearly 546 Members of Parliament from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. It is not going to be an easy job.
"It is a good thing in principle, but in reality, can it succeed?" he asked.
On being queried on Kejriwal's possible expose on corruption in judiciary, Hegde said, "Haven't we heard of malpractices in judiciary? We have had one Supreme Court judge against whom impeachment proceedings had started, but it was not completed. We had one Chief Justice against whom impeachment proceedings had been initiated- Justice Dinakaran- he resigned, so it came to an end.
"We had Soumitra Sen from Calcutta High Court. Impeachment process started against him (and then) stopped; didn't go anywhere. We have a charge sheet filed against Justice Nirmal Yadav of Punjab High Court. We have 34 judges of the Allahabad High Court, who are being investigated by the CBI.
"So, there is corruption there and therefore, he must be having some material against some judges," he said.
On being questioned if self regulation was the way for the judiciary to control corruption within its ranks, he said, "We have tried it and it has not succeeded. We have tried it all these years...About the judiciary, everybody said that..
we will self-regulate, we will control, the superior court will look after the subordinate courts...nothing has happened," he said.
Hegde replied in the affirmative to a query on whether he is willing to have a Lokpal that has the authority to investigate and prosecute judges.
The very judge who is being investigated can go to the court- of which he may be a judge - and then question the investigation, he said.
"Who will investigate the judges? Somebody should be there. You want to have a separate investigating(sic)vigilance body of retired judges, then create it, that is okay, but it should not be out of the purview of investigation.
"That very judge, who is being investigated, can go to the same institution, court of which he is a judge and then question the investigation," he said.