With the institution of Lok Pal becoming defunct and the State Vigilance Bureau becoming the ‘Pocket Bureau’ of the Chief Minister, the accountability system in Punjab is not only under the fragile circle but sounds like a burlesque of the sort. Though talking about ‘Accountability’ in the arena of loose governance looks like a day dream. But if you envision resurrection of the systemic institutional decay, you will have to dwell upon the idea of constituting all powerful autonomous ‘State Accountability Commission’ for Punjab, under the State act, headed by none less than a retired Chief Justice of the High court or a retired Judge of the Supreme Court. The said Commission should be given the statutory powers to evaluate the work and efficiency of all the political appointees, enjoying extravagant status and drawing huge salaries and perks from the State exchequer by doing no productive work for the State and its people. For such a comprehensible review the Ministers could also be brought under the purview of accountability commission. After all, there has to be checks and balances in the Westminster system of Parliamentary Governance, India copied from England. This would be possible only if a graspable assignment of work and duties for each political appointee is defined in their letter of appointment. Statutory rules must be framed and codified either through subordinate legislation or by way of Government’s notification, entailing periodical appraisal of the performance of such political appointees. The State Accountability Commission should be empowered to pass mandatory order to remove any of such appointees, if found wanting in the discharge of their duties or superfluous or burden on the state exchequer. The State Legislature should also empower the ‘Accountability Commission’ to even recover the entire quantum of public money with penalty, spent on such appointees from the State treasury in case any one of them is found guilty.
Such a legislative measure has become almost essential for the transformation of the unwieldy office of the Chief Minister Punjab. At present there is a huge battery of white elephants, unnecessarily parked in the CMO and intriguingly, most of them are at loggerheads with each other, creating terrible mess in the CMO in the absence of supervisory control and accountability mechanism. At present Chief Minister has four freelance advisors in the CMO; Mr. T.S. Shergill is in the rank of cabinet minister and others are in the rank of Minister of State. Admittedly except, Mr. Raveen Thukral , Media advisor none else has any tangible justification for their retention in the office. Mr. Raveen Thukral is of course doing excellent job for his nonperforming master, the Chief Minister, by projecting him as ‘The most competent Chief Minister’ before easily gullible people of Punjab. Beside this the CMO is over crowded with the clumsy assortment of Secretaries, Political Secretaries and OSDs; with no power and responsibilities, whatsoever. Moreover it’s a publically exposed reality that Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh hardly attends his office in the Civil Secretariat at Chandigarh. The suffix OSD should be re-coined as OND (Officer on No Duty). Most amusingly, the Chief Minister’s office is yet to notify the time slot in the schedule of timings in the CMO, notified for the general public as to when could meet the Hon’ble Chief Minister for the redressing of their grievances.
Although India, in its perception, views Pakistan as a failed State but the achievements of its National Accountability Bureau, dealing with corrupt top politicians, is highly commendable. It’s pertinent to mention here that Pakistan’s top politicians perceived to have indulged in mega corruption, misusing the State power while in office, are behind bars; facing trial before the accountability courts. They include Nawaz Sharif (former Prime Minister), Asif Ali Zardari (Former President) and their family members. Why can’t we put in place such a tough measures to deal with corruption and inefficiency at high places? Unfortunately the fragile links in our system of jurisprudence has not only made the system notoriously slow but undeliverable , particularly when big-wigs are brought to justice to face the trials.
I am of the considered view that such a sorry state of affairs could only win through in a failed State; and the most discernible symptoms of a failed state could be determined as; the erosion of legitimate authority of the State to make collective decision, whereby the chain of command goes berserk. Besides the inability of the State craft to provide public services to the last man standing in the queue. The obvious consequence of the wrecked chain of command was witnessed, when the entire State might failed to rescue a two year old Fatehveer Singh out of 150 ft deep bore well, for five days, atrociously none has been held accountable for the trail off an asymmetrical rescue operation; despite public cries, at crescendo.
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