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English Reading Comprehension Set 112

Directions (Q.1-10): Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below. Certain words/phrases have been printed in bold to help you locate them.

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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley struck the right note recently while speaking at the 16th D.P. Kohli memorial lecture organised by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on April 27 in New Delhi. D.P. Kohli was the founder director of the CBI who held office from April 1, 1963 to May 31, 1968. The CBI traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India. It became the Delhi Special Police Establishment and acquired its popular current name, the Central Bureau of Investigation through a Home Ministry resolution dated April 4, 1963. Kohli is rightly remembered as being a determined crusader against corruption. One may not agree with all that Mr. Jaitley said at the lecture especially with regard to how an investigator somehow wants to make out a case against an accused, although the evidence marshalled by him did not justify it. He had said: “He [the investigator] follows the golden rule that if he gives a report that the accused is prima facie not guilty, then questions are going to be raised about him. Therefore, his golden rule is he must somehow make the case and it is the accused’s good luck that he gets a fair trial,” adding that this process has hindered the whole process of economic decision making. Mr. Jaitley further added that under such circumstances, decision-making becomes a game of passing the parcel. “Departments of purchase, defence and disinvestment have all suffered,” he said.

However, his views on the need to revisit several provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act), 1988, cannot be ignored. His description of the fear psychosis that grips the bureaucracy is no exaggeration. It is real, I have heard about this and had this conveyed to me strongly by many friends in the civil service. I agree that apprehension by civil servants of the consequences of taking a decision in a matter of public importance — especially one that involves huge expense to the public exchequer — has been a roadblock to proactive and positive administration. I highlight this especially at a time when the entire nation wants governments, both Central and State, to work fast and effectively. Ironically, fear is the hallmark of those more honest among civil servants than the ones who are venal and bereft of values. In this context, it should be remembered that there are instances where an honest civil servant makes a rank bad decision, not because of a lack of intelligence or inarticulation, but because of timidity and an inability to turn down unscrupulous, off-the-record directions from a political master. In cases like these, the official concerned has to be punished within government and not in courts, that too for lack of courage rather than of integrity. Unfortunately the law, as it exists, does not make a distinction between the reasonably honest yet pusillanimous government official and the dishonest one. It places both on a par. This is the crux of the matter with regard to a lack of integrity in the civil services.

I was struck by the distinction Mr. Jaitley drew between the pre- and post-1991 situation in government and its impact on anti-corruption investigations. In the second time frame, the civil servant at the higher levels had to take momentous decisions to fast track liberalisation and quicken the processes of a failing economy. Conventional and routine thinking had to be shed and bold courses of actions adopted to meet the dire needs of the country. Mr. Jaitley was on target when he said that the PC Act was totally unsuited for such a situation facing a nation that was trying to march ahead on the economic front. He said, “… the Act pre-dated 1991, when the economic reform process began. It was perceived in a regulatory framework when we were still more regulated. That Act has today to evolve. And the basis of the evolution is that when economic activity is being enlarged in the country, in any economic activity and decision-making there would always be new areas to charter out and quick decisions to be taken.”

Unfortunately, necessary changes to the law were not put in place and this failure to reform anti-corruption law had its impact on the pace of public administration and staff morale. Even now, the proposed amendments to the Act are excruciatingly slow in coming, although approved by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government more than a year ago. The information now is that the Union Cabinet has cleared the suggested changes and has improved upon the measures agreed upon by the UPA. Section 13(1)(d)(iii) of the Act is generally looked upon as being the villain of the piece. Under this provision of law, the investigating agency has to prove that a civil servant whose conduct was in question took a decision which “obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest” in order to proceed against him under the Act. There is a suggestion here of a presumption of guilt that can be drawn against the official in question. This, prima facie, is a negation of the English jurisprudence which we inherited and adopted. The overall perception generated by the stern wording of this subsection was that it was not necessary at all for the investigator to prove mens rea or dishonest intention to proceed against the civil servant being probed, and that an adverse presumption could be drawn straightaway against him. Section 20 of the Act, which deals with presumptions that can be drawn against an accused by the court, however refers only to clauses (a) and (b) of subsection (1) of Section 13 and not to clause (d)(iii) that punishes even an inadvertent act causing loss to government. Even so, as a rule of thumb, investigating agencies, both in the Centre and in the States, have, in the initial stages of an investigation and before obtaining legal opinion, tended to interpret the law in a very narrow perspective. In turn, this has had an adverse impact on civil servant morale. In these circumstances, relief to a civil servant can come only from the court before whom he/she is arraigned. For this, the civil servant should be lucky to get a knowledgeable judge and an objective public prosecutor — both of whom are now a vanishing tribe. An amendment to the PC Act, which would delete this particular subsection (1)(d)(iii) of Section 13, has been on the anvil for quite some time. I am certain that there is political consensus that this harsh provision will have to go sooner than later. This move will greatly reduce misgivings in the civil service.

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Q.1.Choose an appropriate title for the passage?
1) The Speech
2) CBI and its Acts
3) Corruption in CBI
4) Removing Ambiguities in Graft Law
5) What an “ACT”

Q.2.Which of the following is nearest to the meaning of “Venal”?
1) Bribable
2) Cruel
3) Merciless
4) Barbaric
5) None of these

Q.3.Which of the following is true according to the passage?
A) DP Kohli was the first director of CBI.
B) Mr Kohli used to be one of the firm directors.
C) Some changes are suggested by UPA government in section 13(1)(d)(iii) of the Act that has recently been approved by union cabinet
1) Only A and B
2) Only B and C
3) Only C and A
4) All A, B and C
5) None

Q.4.Which of the following is not true according to the passage?
1) The information now is that the Union Cabinet has cleared the suggested changes and has improved upon the measures agreed upon by the UPA.
2) necessary changes to the law were not put in place and this failure to reform anti-corruption law had its impact on the pace of public administration and staff morale
3) Pre 1991, the civil servant at the higher levels had to take momentous decisions to fast track liberalisation and quicken the processes of a failing economy
4) There is a suggestion here of a presumption of guilt that can be drawn against the official in question
5) None of the above

Q.5.Which of the following change was suggested by the UPA Govt.?
1) Civil servants decision which obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest in order to proceed against him under the Act.
2) The change has been suggested for the conviction of Ministers and their counterparts.
3) UPA Govt changed the criteria for the suspected civil servants and their trials were to be transferred to the area of concern.
4) All of the above
5) None of the above

Q.6. What is the synonym of the word “excruciatingly”?
1) Exterminating
2) Extensively
3) Extremely
4) Extracting
5) None

Q.7. What is the synonym of the word “exaggeration”?
1) Over Reacting
2) Embellishment
3) Tolerating
4) Dilemma
5) None

Q.8. What does the author mean by the phrase “meet the dire needs of the country”?
1) Urgent needs of the country
2) Required needs of the country
3) Estimated needs of the country
4) All of the above
5) None of the above

Q.9. What is the antonym of the word “apprehension”?
1) None
2) Trepidation
3) Perturbation
4) Consternation
5) Confidence

Q.10. What is the antonym of the word “unscrupulous”?
1) Reprobate
2) Villainous
3) Treasuries
4) Despicable
5) Ethical





Answers:

1. (4
2. (1
3. (4
4. (3
5. (1
6. (3
7. (2
8. (1
9. (5
10. (5

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