EDITORIAL: To confront the corrupt, current Indian laws will not suffice


However big is the scam that is taking place in top political and official circles in India, it is not at easy to legally punish those who are involved in it. Most of the laws that are existing in India are the ones that protect the corrupt and prevent the law sentinels from sending them to jail.

A corrupt person can conduct his or her case for decades. The person just needs to use a part of the huge money he had amassed through corruption to ‘buy’ a prominent lawyer and keep on extending his case as long he wishes.

The corrupt can even baffle investigation agencies and flee the country.

Even if his case reaches the court, he can keep postponing it. Finally, if the punishment verdict is delivered, law’s mercy will be again there on the convict.

When the court inches from the lower court to the apex court, it would have been decades since the trial started. People would have forgotten his story of corruption as they would be after more new corruption stories.

In one of the more-than-seven-year-old cold scam cases, former departmental secretary H C Gupta, two other officials and two officials of the company that won the auction on coal fields were punished by a special court the other day. This is one of the more than 40 cases the CBI is inquiring following controversial interference during the tenure of Manmohan Singh government.

Gupta who was punished the other day was also punished in two other cases.

Since the punishment in all three cases was three years, he and others could easily get bail and they would able to continue their legal battle. If the punishment is for four years or more, the convict will have to go to jail immediately.

The CAG’s findings that irregularity in allotment of coal fields had incurred a loss of Rs 1.85 crore to the country’s exchequer had set off a big controversy during the period of UPA government. As controversy raged, allotments were cancelled and CBI was called in to probe the corruption.

Still, 34 cases are in the court, pending delivery of verdicts. The maximum punishment in cases the special court considered the other day is seven years, at the most. As the punishments are so light, there is no wonder that corruption flourishes in India. When a clerk or peon in a government office takes Rs 50 or 100 as bribe and if that is caught red-handed, a jail term is sure for him and when he comes out of the jail, he may lose his job. On the other hand, there are loopholes in laws to help officials, who indulge in graft to the tune of crores of rupees, escape from the clutches of law.
If punishment for those who loot the public money are not made harsh and the cases are not concluded in short period, the corruption cases will keep on dragging indefinitely. There are hundreds of examples for this.

Those who come up with graft allegations also don’t want to wait adamantly to see the accused getting punished. Their aim is often the temporary political mileage, whether it is Bofors, 2-G, Augusta Westlanda or Rafael scams. The loss is only to the public exchequer.

It is high time the law-makers rewrote Corruption penal laws. Corruption cases should not be the ones that can be used by various political parties for their own benefits. The tendency for corruption will only come down if an impression is created that those who commit the crime will get punished.

Unfortunately laws used to fight corruption today are the ones used in olden days when cases of corruption and public exchequer loot had not mounded like Himalaya as it is now.
With changing times, the magnitude of corruption has increased scaringly. Accordingly, laws to fight corrupt masters should also be made ten times harsher.