No vilification in name of corruption fight: Pranab

President Pranab Mukherjee Friday said it must be ensured that in the name of checking corruption, vilification campaigns are not carried out to defame or destroy reputations. He was speaking at the inaugural session of the 11th All India Lokayuktas Conference here.

While checking corruption remained the focus of the session, key speakers cautioned against the methods being adopted for the anti-corruption movement. Besides the President, the speakers included Union Law Minister Ashwini Kumar and Supreme Court judge R M Lodha.

"Lokayuktas must remember that their duty is not just to indict public functionaries when they are guilty but also to protect them when nothing is found wrong with their conduct and to correct wrong perceptions about them with equal force and earnestness," he said. He added that anger against corruption was legitimate as was the protest against it, but this should not become an excuse for an assault on democratic institutions.

According to the President, "institutions were the visible pillars of our Constitution". "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. Institutions are the ultimate guardians of our liberty."

Kumar agreed that the fight against corruption was a national agenda but warned against the fight being "hijacked". "The elimination of corruption is a national agenda and this cannot be hijacked by crusaders who want to exploit it for political gain. This will only serve to debilitate the resolve of many," Kumar said.

Lodha maintained that slogans and demonstrations alone would not yield positive results in containing corruption. "There cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution to fight corruption in the country. Slogans and demonstrations are not enough," Lodha said. Referring to the role of the media, the judge said the media should not "drag" on any issue for long and pass verdict and instead leave the matter to the courts after reporting it.

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