Hailing the recent Supreme Court decision which bans oral orders from politicians to babus, S.Y. Quraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) firmly believed it would “empower” bureaucrats.
“The judgment will give more powers to civil servants, as they will be in a position to refuse taking oral orders from ministers”, he told Zee Media’s Bharat Bhagya Vidhata.
Joginder Singh, former director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), who joined Quraishi on Zee Media’s ‘Mudda Aapka’ show didn’t seem excited about the judgment.
He averred, “The Supreme Court verdict on banning oral orders is already there in the rule book but no one follows it. Initially, bureaucrats may adhere to the decision but with time their confidence will go away.”
However, not only politicians, Singh also blamed babus for non-implementation of the rules. He explained, “In 1997, when CBI filed the chargesheet in the fodder scam against Lalu Prasad Yadav, I was told that from last three years babus in the state hadn’t taken any oral orders from politicians. But, in few months, when they didn’t get the preferential treatment during transfers, they mend their ways.”
Singh also pitched for functional autonomy for CBI. He argued, “Why a CBI officer need to take anyone’s permission to investigate any case. CBI needs functional autonomy to work without any interference.”
While defending the apex court intervention, Quraishi showed his concerns over the declining role of many public institutions. “The Supreme Court is like a guardian angel for public institutions. Its intervention has always provided fruitful results,” he asserted.
He also stressed that that all institutions should cooperate rather than confront one another.
Referring to the recent election commission guidelines on social media, Quraishi said, “It was done to make election process more transparent. However, the guidelines have been issued only to keep track of politicians’ spending on social media and not keep a tab on common man’s opinion on social media.”
He stated that the latest EC move would also curb politicians from passing defamatory comments on social media.
Quraishi welcomed the change proposed in the collegium system in judiciary especially by keeping leader of the opposition in the loop. “It will make the system more transparent. There should be some checks and balances to make an institution powerful”, he opined.
However, Singh believed the same formula may not be good in the case of CBI. “The appointment of the CBI director by a collegium (which includes the leader of the opposition) wouldn’t bring much transparency as the government controls all other recruitments,” he asserted.
While suggesting transparent and collaborative procedure in appointment of heads of the institutions, Quraishi also demanded freedom and respect for them.
Likewise, in order to make CBI a better agency, Singh opined functional autonomy for CBI and its linkage to constitutional status. He also pitched for quick action in a case if corruption is found in any institution.