A Step Towards Fighting Corruption
#GS-02 Governance, #GS-04 Ethics
Supreme Court on Corruption:
- In Neeraj Dutta v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) Supreme Court has lowered the bar for the quantum of evidence required to convict persons charged with corruption.
- It has declared that an accused can be convicted even if prosecution witnesses turn hostile, if the circumstantial evidence points unequivocally to the guilt of the accused.
- The court through this judgement has set the standard of ‘preponderance of probability’ in case of corruption cases.
Preponderance of probability
- Preponderance of probability means that degree of certainty of belief in the mind of the Court by which it is convinced that the existence of a fact is more probable than its non-existence.
- It is a much laxer burden of proof in conviction than the traditional beyond all reasonable doubts.
The benefit of this ruling
- This judgement can help in ensuring integrity in public services, especially in the ‘superior’ services such as the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service.
- The severity of the law and its application and the strength of public opinion which carry forward the campaign for a clean public life are the two aspects to the fight against corruption.
- Both of these are equally important if we are to rid the country of the corruption prevalent in the burgeoning bureaucracy.
- However, law-makers and the public sometimes fail to understand that deterrence works only up to a point.
- Higher penalties for criminal behaviour demand higher quantum of proof be required by the courts to be convinced of the guilt of those arraigned before them.
- It is well known that some powerful people are accused of ‘buying’ prosecution witnesses which has now become moot.
The threat of Corruption
- It is fairly established that the misdeeds of public servants are partly attributable to political corruption.
- In many States it has become so that no service even if it is a fundamental right can be obtained without greasing the palm of someone in the administrative or political hierarchy.
- This includes jobs that are often sold at a price and many applicants are willing to pay without a complaint due to the acute unemployment.
- The approval for construction of a building or for registration of a property in many cases is only possible with payment of a bribe.
- These are but a limited number of the ways corruption has been a cancer to our society,