3 March 2023 4:32 AM GMT
In a significant judgement, the Supreme Court of India recently lamented, that corruption was one of the main reasons as to why the ‘preambular promise’ of the Constitution to achieve equal distribution of wealth remains a distant dream.“Though it is the preambular promise of the Constitution to secure social justice to the people of India by striving to achieve equal distribution...
In a significant judgement, the Supreme Court of India recently lamented, that corruption was one of the main reasons as to why the ‘preambular promise’ of the Constitution to achieve equal distribution of wealth remains a distant dream.
“Though it is the preambular promise of the Constitution to secure social justice to the people of India by striving to achieve equal distribution of wealth, it is yet a distant dream. If not the main, one of the more prominent hurdles for achieving progress in this field is undoubtedly ‘corruption’. Corruption is a malaise, the presence of which is all pervading in every walk of life”, a Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta observed.
The Court was considering a case challenging the Chhattisgarh High Court's order quashing a disproportionate assets case registered in 2020 against Aman Singh, the former Principal Secretary of the former Chief Minister Raman Singh, and his wife Yasmin Singh, who was a consultant when the Raman Singh government was in power.
Present in all spheres of governance; even responsible citizens say corruption has become has become a way of one’s life, the Court pointed out while adding that it was matter of utter disgrace for the community.
“Indeed, it is a matter of disgrace for the entire community that not only on the one hand is there a steady decline in steadfastly pursuing the lofty ideals which the founding fathers of our Constitution had in mind, degradation of moral values in society is rapidly on the rise on the other.”
The root of corruption is nothing but greed, the judgement authored by Justice Datta said. The uncontrollable greed for wealth has made the situation worse, it added.
“‘Greed’, regarded in Hinduism as one of the seven sins, has been overpowering in its impact. In fact, unsatiated greed for wealth has facilitated corruption to develop like cancer. If the corrupt succeed in duping the law enforcers, their success erodes even the fear of getting caught. They tend to bask under a hubris that rules and regulations are for humbler mortals and not them. To get caught, for them, is a sin.”
Terming it as “botched”, the Bench also took exception to the how investigations into the so-called-scams are conducted.
“Little wonder, outbreak of scams is commonly noticed. What is more distressing is the investigations/inquiries that follow. More often than not, these are botched and assume the proportion of bigger scams than the scams themselves. However, should this state of affairs be allowed to continue?”.
Tracking down corrupt public servants and punishing them appropriately is the mandate of the Prevention against Corruption Act. This is because there’s a higher expectation from people who are holding positions of power, the Bench stated. But certain public servants place their private interest higher than their public duty, it explained.
““We the people”, with the adoption of our Constitution, had expected very high standards from people occupying positions of trust and responsibility in line with the Constitutional ethos and values. Regrettably, that has not been possible because, inter alia, a small section of individuals inducted in public service for ‘serving the public’ appear to have kept private interest above anything else and, in the process, amassed wealth not proportionate to their known sources of income at the cost of the nation.”
As there’s no magic wand to wipe out greed, it’s the duty of the Constitutional courts, i.e., the Supreme Court and High Courts to show zero-tolerance to corruption and pull up the offending officers, the court sternly pointed out.
“Although an appropriate legislation is in place to prevent the cancer of corruption from growing and developing, wherefor maximum punishment by way of imprisonment for ten years is stipulated, curbing it in adequate measure, much less eradicating it, is not only elusive but unthinkable in present times. Since there exists no magic wand as in fairy tales, a swish of which could wipe out greed, the Constitutional Courts owe a duty to the people of the nation to show zero tolerance to corruption and come down heavily against the perpetrators of the crime while at the same time saving those innocent public servants, who unfortunately get entangled by men of dubious conduct acting from behind the screen with ulterior motives and/or to achieve vested interests. The task, no doubt, is onerous but every effort ought to be made to achieve it by sifting the grain from the chaff”.
Hoping for a better and corruption-less future, the Bench proceeded to deal with the specific facts of the case. While setting aside the High Court judgement, it observed that it is desirable that the High Courts don’t quash corruption case FIRs at investigation stage, even if it is suspected that the case has been registered by a new government against officers of the previous government.
Click here to read the judgment