New Delhi: Country's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was interested in setting up an independent body to check corruption, former Election Commissioner GVG Krishnamurthy said on Sunday.
The issue of creating an ombudsman to fight graft had come up for discussions at 3rd All India Law Conference at instance of Nehru in 1962.
"The issue of appointing ombudsman was introduced following a suggestion by Nehru and the modalities with regard to such an office were discussed at this conference.
File Photo: Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in conversation at the All-India Congress committee meeting at Bombay in 1946.
"The session on ombudsman was presided over by MC Setalvad, the celebrated Attorney General of that time, and it was unanimously resolved and adopted that an ombudsman be appointed to deal with charges of corruption at both political and official levels," Krishnamurthy said.
The details and specific provisions for such a bill were expected to be discussed and suggestions were to be made for a debate on the measure so that it could be considered for introduction in Parliament by the government, he said.
However, soon after that the whole attention of the government was diverted towards Sino-India war that broke out in 1962, and the bill could not be introduced, he said, maintaining that after Nehru's death, the issue lost attention.
Krishnamurthy, who was Election Commissioner between 1993 and 1999, had presented a paper at the law conference held from August 12-14, 1962, at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi and was chaired by the late Prime Minister and attended by 1,500 delegates including the then Chief Justice of India, Justice BP Sinha.
The move behind creating an autonomous body like Lokpal, according to Krishnamurthy, had gathered momentum after certain allegations of corruption had hit Nehru's government.
"After India attained independence, there was hope and optimism amongst people that a responsible government will serve the country with devotion and dedication. It was unfortunate that a number of scandals rocked the nation shortly after India attained freedom," he said.
Krishnamurthy pointed out the Jeep scandal in 1948, and the Mudgal case in 1950 had put the then Congress government in the dock.
Besides the Cycle scam of 1961, KD Malavya scam and Dharmateja Loan Scam, 1960, happened during Nehru's tenure between August 15, 1947 and May 27, 1964 giving rise to suggestions on the need to devise a mechanism to tackle corruption.
As per the paper presented by Krishnamurthy, an ombudsman would have been a body on the lines of suggestions made under the Jan Lokpal Bill which has been drafted by the anti-graft team led by Anna Hazare who is fasting at Ramlila Maidan.