Friday, February 18, 2011

Deal Expeditiously with Graft Cases: SC to Courts - From - Outlook and Reuters

The Supreme Court today directed all special courts in the country dealing with corruption complaints against public servants to expeditiously dispose them off in the interest of both justice and the accused.

"We are conscious of the fact that the government of India, Department of Law and Justice is making all efforts for expeditious disposal of cases of this nature by constituting special courts. However, the fact remains that it takes longer time to reach its destination. "We are of the view that when a matter of this nature is entrusted to a special court or a regular Court, it is but proper on the part of the court concerned to give priority to the same and conclude the trial within a reasonable time.

"The High Court, having overall control and supervisory role, is expected to monitor and even call for a quarterly report from the court concerned for speedy disposal," a bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said in a judgement. The apex court passed the judgement while awarding one year RI to former Kerala Power Minister Balkrishna Pillai and two others in the Idamalayar dam corruption case.

"In as much as the accused is entitled to speedy justice, it is the duty of all in charge of dispensation of justice to see that the issue reaches its end as early as possible," the bench said. The direction assumes significance as a number prominent political leaders, including RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav and AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa are facing trial in corruption-related cases.

In the present case, the apex court pointed out that Idamalayar contract relates to the year 1982 and the state government initiated prosecution in 1991. However, the trial prolonged for nearly nine years and the special court passed an order convicting the accused on November 19, 1999. The High Court passed the acquittal order in 2003 and eight years thereafter, the Supreme Court today reversed the acquittal.

Source - Outlook

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh faces more political headaches after the Supreme Court pressed for deeper probes into a multi-billion dollar corruption case and a ruling coalition ally was implicated in the scandal.
Allegations the government may have lost up to $39 billion in revenues after firms were awarded telecoms deals at rock-bottom prices in return for kickbacks have rocked the ruling coalition and compounded the fragility of India's fragile investment climate.
The Supreme Court, increasingly assertive under its new chief justice, told the federal police agency to go after more company executives and politicians and set up a special court to investigate India's biggest graft case in decades. One Indian company executive, a former telecoms minister and two other aides have been arrested in the scandal.
"They are part of a wider conspiracy," a Supreme Court bench was quoted on Friday by local media as saying. "We have a large number of people who think themselves to be above the law. You must catch all of them. Merely because a person is in the Forbes list of millionaires and billionaires does not matter. Remember there is no parallel to this case."
The Supreme Court, along with an aggressive media buoyed by widespread voter anger at the scams, has kept investigations alive, halting any government attempts to stonewall probes and underlining a shift in power politics as India modernises. A federal police lawyer told a court on Thursday that in one instance companies linked to the scam had paid $47 million to a TV channel run by the regional DMK party, which helps the ruling coalition maintain its slim majority in parliament in Delhi.
The latest revelations will further tarnish the image of Singh and his coalition. While the government will likely survive, the scandal has paralysed Singh's government, with the last parliamentary session closed due to opposition protests. Asia's third largest economy may be booming, but there may be signs of cracks in its high growth model as years of complacency over reforms to open up the heavily-regulated financial sector, industry and invest in creaky infrastructure takes its toll.
Foreign direct investment has fallen for three consecutive years, from 2.9 percent of GDP in 2008/09 to around 1.8 percent of GDP in 2010/11. Some of this has to do with the global economic slowdown, but investor scepticism is also a factor. One factor may be the 78-year-old prime minister. His decision-making appears to have been paralysed in his second term despite winning re-election with an increased majority. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has said Singh's reliance on the DMK prevented him from probing the telecoms case. The government appeared close to agreeing to a broad, cross-party investigation in the scandal, paving the way for parliament to resume as normal for a Feb. 28 budget session.

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