No vilification in the name of fight graft: Pranab
New Delhi: Amid raft of corruption allegations, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday cautioned against "vilification campaigns" to defame or destroy reputations in the name of checking graft.
Inaugurating the all India Lokayuktas Conference, Mukherjee said anger against the "bitter pandemic" of corruption was legitimate as is the protest against the "plague" but insisted that it should not become an excuse for an assault on the country's democratic institutions.
"It must be ensured that in the name of checking corruption, vilification campaigns are not carried out to defame or destroy reputations. False allegations aimed at impugning reputations are bad," Mukherjee said.
Listing measures being taken by the government to contain corruption, he said one must be able to distinguish between bonafide errors of judgement from corruption and civil wrong from criminal intent.
"We must also distinguish bonafide errors of judgment from graft and corruption, civil wrong from criminal intent and the need to have swift and effective sanctions against corruption from the imperative of protecting the innocent."
Noting that various "institutions" are the visible pillars the Constitution, the President said graft cannot be tackled by destroying them but by re-engineering them so that they become "stronger" than before.
Admitting corruption was a major issue facing the nation, Law Minister Ashwini Kumar said the UPA government has a "non-negotiable commitment" in the fight against graft. At the same time, he said utmost care must be taken to ensure that reputation of people are not tarnished.
He said the fight against corruption cannot be allowed to be hijacked by those who want to exploit it for their political gain.
"We need to find a lasting solution. We need to think out of box," he said also favouring inculcating moral values among children in schools.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy listed the steps taken by the government like brining of Whistleblowers' Protection Bill and a bill on timely delivery of services to citizens to contain corruption and bring transparency. He said government would ensure passage of the the Lokpal Bill in Parliament.
"I assure this august house that Lokpal Bill will be passed," he said. The Bill has already been cleared by the Lok Sabha and a Rajya Sabha Select Committee is examining it and is likely to give its report in the winter session", he said.
Mukherjee said institutions are visible pillars of the Constitution and efforts must be put in to strengthen them further.
"Institutions are the visible pillars of our Constitution and if they crack, then the idealism of our Constitution cannot hold. Our institutions may have suffered from the weariness of time. The answer is not to destroy what has been built but to re-engineer them so that they become stronger than before," he said.