While hearing a Public Interest Litigation moved by Advocate AP Suryakrasam in the matter concerning the bribed collected by the farmers at the paddy procurement centres. The order passed by Justice N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi stated that the Central Government may consider the death penalty or hanging as a punishment for corrupt acts like demanding bribe.
The Bench stated that the Prevention of Corruption Act needs necessary amendments with more rigorous penalties to curb this peril of widely spread corruption. Further comparing this retribution the punishment reckoning held in China, North Korea, Morocco, Indonesia and Thailand.
The Justices observed that the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 has not helped reduce corruption. Rather, the masses now have no other option than to accept corruption as a daily part of their lives. Corruption is deeply sowed and attached to our economy and is slowly spreading like Cancer. Further adding that the media reports corrupt officers caught red-handed while collecting a bribe. This action calls for stricter punishment. Therefore, the bench observed that the Act needs a re-visit to strengthen the Act and add more rigorous and stringent penalties to “curb the menace of corruption.”
The case of AP Suryakrasam vs State of Tamil Nadu and ors. the Bench further observed that during the inspection in the Procurement Centres, many forms of media, including the visual media reported that “large sums of money have been seized.” Recently after a raid was conducted in the Pullarambakkam Procurement Centre, Tiruvallur District, INR 2,00,000/- was seized, as reported in a news item. The petitioner contended that the officials demand a sum of INR 30-40/- as a bribe from the agriculturists bringing their produce to the Procurement Centre if they wish to sell their produce. The petition contended that the officials at the Procurement Centre made the farmers wait for days when the farmers when they appeared at the centers to sell their harvest. Additionally, the petition further claimed that the officials procured the paddy from private traders rather than the farmers.
To further consider this matter, the Court taking a suo moto charge impleading the Union Home Affairs Minister, the Union Law Ministry and the Ministry of Parliamentary affairs.
Bearing in mind such irregularities highlighted in the reports presented to the Court, the Bench enquired with the concerned authorities for further details with regards to the action taken against the officials who have partaken in such discrepancies. Along with this, the Court also demanded a report to be sent on the measures the government shall implement based on the reports submitted. A committee led by retired Madras HC judge, Dr. Justice AK Rajan filed a report which was also noted by the Bench. The report highlighted the required administrative reforms essential to establish an administration that is transparent and free of corruption. The SG, following this report, accepted the recommendation which suggested delegation of powers and fixing of responsibility and accountability at every stage and entry-level over every single government servant. After stating that the Court wanted to know if the State had taken any action regarding this part, it impleaded the State Chief Secretary, Vigilance Commissioner and the Director of Vigilance and Anti-corruption as parties to this case. The next hearing shall be conducted on November 9.
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