The Gujarat High Court recently lamented the effect of corruption on our society and lives, asserting that it is responsible for governance being considered a “matter of joke”.
Justice JB Pardiwala observed, “If governance is a matter of joke today, making it a laughing stock and leaving it in a pitiable situation, and if cynicism towards the system is the order of the day, the full blame therefor should perhaps go to corruption. Development is perhaps the biggest victim of corruption, having suffered adversely due to its ill effects…
“…The problem of corruption is more acute in a developing country like India where this villain has fully abducted the development from the lives of people.”
Commenting on the effects of corruption on our society, Justice Pardiwala further observed, “If one is asked to name one sole factor that effectively arrested the progress of our society to prosperity, undeniably it is corruption. If the society in a developing country faces a menace greater than even the one from the hired assassins to its law and order, then that is from the corrupt elements at the higher echelons of the Government and of the political parties. It is one of the greatest challenges before the humanity. It also lies at the root of several other problems facing the humanity.
“Corruption can perhaps be described as the biggest factor responsible for failure and near collapse of legal and moral fibre of the nations and societies the world over. It undermines the freedom of an individual, weakens the rights of the people, threatens the very existence of the democratic institutions, and jeopardises the safety and security of the state.”
The court was hearing petitions filed by two former ministers of then chief minister Narendra Modi-government— Parshottam Solanki and Dileep Sanghani— who wanted to quash the criminal prosecution against them in the Rs. 400-crore fisheries scam.
The court, however, perused the 200-page inquiry report submitted by the police officer, and opined that it reveals more than a prima facie case to proceed against, not only the sitting Minister of State for Fisheries, but even against former Minister of Agriculture, Dilip Sanghani.
It then opined that there appeared to be sufficient reason for issuance of process to the accused and to put them to trial.
Mala fide intention not sufficient to discard complaint
The court rejected the contention that public interest will suffer if sitting minister of a State is persecuted. It further refused to accept the submission that the complaint was filed with mala fide intentions, observing,
“Even assuming that the complainant has laid the complaint only on account of his personal animosity, that, by itself, will not be a ground to discard the complaint containing serious allegations which have to be tested and weighed after the evidence is collected.”
Need for speedy trial
The court observed that the “linch-pin” to administration of criminal justice is speedy conclusion of criminal trials. Section 19(3) of the Act, it said, sufficiently indicates the legislative intent for the expeditious disposal of trial under the Act as well as the need for least interference by the higher courts.
It further noted that Section 4(4) of the Act specifically states that a Special Judge shall, as far as practicable hold the trial of an offence on day-to-day basis.
“This legislative intent was clearly spelled out by the Courts in various judicial pronouncements with definite emphasis on need for expeditious disposal. These provisions sufficiently indicate the intention of the Legislature and also the object of the Act that cases of corruption shall be tried speedily and completed as early as possible,” it then observed.
The petitions were then dismissed, with the court quoting Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged:
“When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your Laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.”
Read the Judgment Here