No mercy for the corrupt, says SC
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday called for 'zero tolerance' approach towards corruption and advised the courts not to get swayed by mercy and forgiveness while awarding punishment to the corrupt.
Asking the courts to impose stringent punishment in corruption cases, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant said courts must deal with corrupt people with an iron hand, particularly when the country is witnessing cancerous growth of corruption which had polluted moral standards of people and administration.
Ordering termination of services of a conductor in UP State Road Transport Corporation for indulging in corrupt practices in 1992 to allow 25 passengers to travel ticketless, the bench said the degree of corruption was immaterial while awarding punishment to an accused. It quashed concurrent findings of a labour court and the Allahabad High Court, which had ordered reinstatement of the conductor.
The bench said the HC and labour court appeared to have been swayed by the concept of forgiveness and mercy while remaining oblivious to the great harm caused to the institution, the transport corporation, through the corrupt act which had the potential to hit at the root of the faith of employer in the employee.
"Does he deserve leniency," the bench asked. It said: "When such kind of indiscipline causes financial loss to the Corporation, adequate punishment has to be imposed and in our view such misconduct does not stand on a lesser footing than embezzlement and more importantly results in loss of faith and breaches the trust."
The bench held that HC order granting the erring conductor a chance for reformation and to make him disciplined was wrong and terminated his services 23 years after he was caught red-handed for allowing the passengers to travel without ticket.
"The delinquent employee has harboured the notion that when the cancerous growth has affected the system, he can further allow it to grow by covering it like an octopus, with its tentacles disallowing any kind of surgical operation or treatment so that the lesion continues. The whole act is reprehensible and such a situation does not even remotely commend any lenience," it said.
The bench said the approach of the HC and labour court showing leniency towards the conductor is not judicially maintainable.