The Madras High Court, on 2nd November, said that the centre should consider the death penalty like China or North Korea to curb corruption. The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate AP Suryakrasam where he expressed concerns over bribe demands made by government officials at paddy procurement centres. The Madurai Bench of the High Court said that there is a need for amendment in the Prevention of Corruption Act to impose more stringent penalties.
Madras High Court calls for Chinese or North Korean like retribution to tackle corruption; Urges Central government to impose death penalty [Read Order] https://t.co/8BMUYFuPis— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) November 3, 2020
The Bench comprising of Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice B Pugalendhi said, “The Central Government may consider imposing punishment, such as, ‘hanging’ or ‘death penalty’, for corrupt practices or for demanding and accepting bribes, like in China, North Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Morocco.” The court further added that though there are laws to prevent corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, corruption is still prevalent in the country.
The court further observed that people are compelled to accept corruption as normal. It is deep-rooted in the system and has spread like a Cancer. “Every day, it is reported in the media that many officials are caught red-handed while taking bribes. Hence, the punishment needs to be enhanced. Therefore, this Court is of the view that there should be a re-visit, and the Act should be strengthened, and stringent penalties should be imposed to curb the menace of corruption,” the court said.
The court has suo motu impleaded the Union Home Affairs Minister, the Union Law Ministry, and the Ministry of Parliamentary affairs to consider and act upon the suggestion.
What was the case?
The court was hearing the PIL submitted by advocate AP Suryakrasam. He alleged that the officials at the Paddy Procurement Centres were asking for bribes from the farmers to initiate the procurement process. They were making farmers wait for days, and when they approached the centres to find out why there was a delay, the officers demanded bribes. The petitioner also alleged that the officials were procuring paddy from private traders instead of the farmers.
The court further said that it was reported in media that a large sum of money was seized during the inspection of the Procurement Centres. It was recently reported that when a raid was conducted in the Pullarambakkam Procurement Centre, Tiruvallur District, Rs. 2,00,000/- were seized from the officials. “These raids and the seizure of amounts would only support the contention of the petitioner that a sum of Rs.30/- to Rs.40/- is being demanded by the officials as a bribe from the Agriculturists, who bring their produce to the Procurement Centre.”
The court asked the concerned authorities to submit more details on the action taken against corrupt officials and called for a report on the actions taken by the government based on a report by MS Swaminathan. The Bench noted that the State government had accepted a recommendation for fixing the accountability of the government officials at every stage based on the report submitted by a committee headed by retired Madras High Court judge, Dr. Justice AK Rajan. The court asked if the government to any steps in this direction and impleaded the State Chief Secretary, Vigilance Commissioner, and the Director of Vigilance and Anti-corruption as a party in the case.
The next hearing in the case is on 9th November.