Corruption is a major problem in Bangladesh and the shadows of corruption are evident in every public sectors of Bangladesh. As a consequence, government expenditures are increasing and also inefficiency and ineffectiveness are also increasing day by day. Political patronage relationships and lack of accountability mechanism are causes of high rate of inequality. Corruption has destroyed the democratic values and values of justice of the country. In Bangladesh, corruption has engulfed all the systems such as the political system, the administrative system and the judicial system in its black hole and destroyed all ethnics, norms and values. General Citizens are not afforded equal services including justice in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the top corrupt countries of the world. According to Transparency International in 2017, Bangladesh was ranked 143rd out of 180 in ascending order list of corrupted countries. In 2016, it was 145th, therefore Bangladesh has progressed two positions in 2017. Still, Bangladesh has ranked in top twenty corrupted countries in 2017. On other hand, Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB) reported in 2017 that law enforcement agencies, passport offices and judicial related services are top corrupted sectors compared to other sectors. According to TIB, judicial bodies of Bangladesh are highly corrupted sectors although Bangladesh is considered as a democratic country.
There is strong positive relationship between good governance and rule of law. So, what is good governance? Governance describes the process of decision making and the process by which decisions are implemented. Good governance ensures rule of law, transparency, accountability and also participation of stakeholders. UNDP (1997) identified the key characteristics of good governance which are participation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensus orientation, equity, effectiveness and efficiency, accountability and strategic vision. Where, corruption is defined as ‘dishonest or illegal behavior especially by people in authority.’There is negative relationship between good governance and corruption. If corruption ratios are smoothly increasing in public and administrative sector of a country, good governance system would not be effectively taking place in the country. How corruption create barrier in ensuring good governance of a country? Is corruption a barrier of establishing good governance system in Bangladesh? If Bangladesh government wants to ensure good governance system in the country, then firstly it has to build strong state institutions like the judiciary, bureaucracy, etc. But corruption has damaged the ethics of all state institutions such as the judiciary, the bureaucracy and the administration of Bangladesh. The weakness of the state institutions is a symptom of high rate of corruption. Rule of law or judiciary related services in Bangladesh are highly corrupted sector; that is why rule of law has become like illusion for citizens. Corruption is therefore an antithesis to the rule of law.
In Bangladesh, political criminalisation and client list politics undermine the rule of law and contribute to stimulating corruption in the country. Judicial authorities are serving their clients who provide the judicial bodies various types of irrational benefits. Similarly, criminals get political shelter of politicians in every government period. As a consequence, justice against criminal are interrupted due to political influence. Law is implemented to serve the interest of high profile people of society but law is not implemented for ensuring justice against criminals which has become the tradition. As a result, minority of the society, powerless and moneyless people suffer and do not get access to justice, sometimes even being victimised although they are innocent. Tonu murder case and Sagor-Runi case are good examples of corrupt judiciary; like these there are thousands of examples of lack of judicial justice in Bangladesh.
Democracy is one of the fundamental elements for ensuring good governance which assures peoples participation, consensus and also accountability. But administrative corruption undermines norms of democracy, rule of law and accountability, as well as, transparency. As a result, administrative corruption has created barricade in relationship between citizens and public officials. People centre development has not occurred due to corruption which damages the ethics of participation and transparency. General people have rare participation in development policies and public demands are ignored by the authority. Besides, special group participations or groups interest has become more prioritised rather than public interest. Due to lack of accountability and peoples’ participation, corruption could turn a development project into a development disaster. Examples: The second Teesta Road Bridge is located in the Gangacchara upazila of Rangpur has collapsed just two days before of its inauguration (daily star, 14 September 2018). Without democracy, it is rarely possible to establish good governance in a country.
But corruption is also an antithesis to democracy. Corruption prevents the state from fulfilling its constitutional obligations, erodes the legitimacy of the democratic government and subverts the rule of law. It has eaten into the ethical fabric of our society, and stifles the smooth economic growth. If a country wants to establish good governance, the government has to reduce corruptions from state institutions at first rather than building strong state institutions. Otherwise, corruptions destroy variables of good governance like rule of law, transparency, accountability and democracy.
Minhazur Rahman Rezvi, The author is student of Development Studies at University of Dhaka