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Committed to zero tolerance of corruption

New Delhi: India is committed to greater transparency and accountability in governance as also to the policy of "zero tolerance" towards corruption, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil said today.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi who termed corruption as a "moral failure", the President said legislation alone would not be enough to combat the menace but also requires looking at individual behaviour as well as societal norms through mediums of education, creation of awareness and moral regeneration.

"We are committed to greater transparency and accountability in governance, as also to a policy of `zero tolerance` towards corruption," she said after inaugurating the Seventh Regional Conference of the ADB-OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific Region on `Building Multidisciplinary Frameworks to Combat Corruption` here.

"India has an elaborate legal and institutional framework for preventing and combating corruption in public services. We have a well structured system of recruitment, clear and transparent policies of promotion, and elaborate conduct rules for public officials for ensuring the maintenance of integrity," the President said.

She said India ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in May 2011. "It has been a significant step and would facilitate the furtherance of efforts to secure effective international co-operation in tackling trans-border corruption," she said.

The President said while domestic laws were substantially compliant with the mandatory provisions of the UN Convention except a couple of Articles, necessary legislations were introduced in Parliament to fully adhere to.

"The necessary Legislative Bill has been introduced in Parliament, which relates to the prevention of bribery of foreign public officials and officials of public international organisations.

Patil told the delegates that a process to consider changes in the Indian penal laws has also been set in motion for criminalising private sector bribery.

She said any approach to combat corruption would need to be multifaceted, as the problem itself has a number of dimensions.

"Governments would have to constantly look at and review existing laws, systems and procedures for ensuring their effectiveness. It would require strengthening institutions, removing loopholes, stringently implementing laws and making every institution more transparent in its functioning," she said, adding that all stakeholders will have to work together in all these initiatives.

Highlighting the multi-level checks at the probe and judicial levels to tackle corruption, Patil said the Parliament is also considering framing an Ombudsman Law and getting the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010 passed soon.

"Rules of conduct for public officials provide for submission of reports regarding investments, assets and properties and gifts received. There are also provisions for prevention of conflict of interest through restrictions on private employment of public officials after retirement.

Violation of conduct rules attracts disciplinary action against officials," the President said.

Hailing the ADB-OECD initiative against corruption, she emphasised on bilateral arrangements for mutual assistance to build international cooperation.

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