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Manmohan to CBI: Don”t call it crime if no evidence of wrongdoing

Manmohan said that the govt will work to protect the past and present of the investigating agency. (PTI)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose government has been buffeted by investigations into the propriety of some key policy decisions, Monday urged law enforcement agencies not to question the process of policy-making without evidence of wrongdoing and brand them as criminal acts as that, he said, would be flawed and excessive.

Underlining the efforts of UPA-2 to bring legal and administrative reforms to curb corruption and increase transparency in governance, Singh said the Prevention of Corruption Act was being modified “to amend a provision which presently criminalises, even in the ‘absence of awareness’ of any action of a public servant that secures for any persons a pecuniary advantage”.

“While actions that prima-facie show malafide intent or pecuniary gain should certainly be questioned, pronouncing decisions taken with no ill-intention within the prevailing policy as criminal misconduct would certainly be flawed and excessive,” Singh told an international conference on corruption organised by the CBI.

Investigators, he said, should also distinguish errors of judgement from criminal acts.

“As I have said on earlier occasions, decision making in a world of uncertainty is a risky operation and some decisions which appear sensible ex-ante may ex-post turn out to be faulty. Our administrative set up has to be so managed that the fear of the unknown must not lead to paralysis in decision making,” he said.

“Policy-making is a multi-layered and complex process in the government and it would not be appropriate for a police agency to sit in judgement over policy formulation, without any evidence of malafide,” he told the conference organised on the occasion of the CBI’s golden jubilee.

Singh’s comments come in the backdrop of a string of corruption cases being probed by the CBI, the latest being the coal blocks allotment scandal involving top industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and the role in it of the PM himself.

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