HC asks Centre; UP to consider changes in Corruption Act

The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court on Friday asked the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government to consider appropriate amendments in Prevention of Corruption Act 1988.

Last Updated: Dec 03, 2010, 18:30 PM IST

Lucknow: The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High
Court on Friday asked the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government to
consider appropriate amendments in Prevention of Corruption
Act 1988, while directing CBI to wrap up probe into the multi-
crore foodgrain scam in the state within next six months.

The judgement was passed by a division bench comprising
Justices Devi Prasad Singh and S C Chaurasia while allowing a
petition filed by Vishwanath Chaturvedi, seeking direction for
proper probe of the scam by CBI.

"Registry shall send a copy of the present judgement to
the Secretary Law, Government of India as well as to the
principal Secretary Law and Chief Secretary of UP to consider
for appropriate amendment in the Prevention of Corruption Act
in the light of the observations made in the body of
judgement," the bench said.

The court directed that till the law is appropriately
amended by the state or the Centre, findings recorded and
directions issued should be followed by all investigating
agencies and subordinate courts of the state while dealing
with corruption cases.

The bench stated that it will not be necessary for the
CBI or state agencies to obtain sanction under the statutory
provisions with regard to the present controversy.

"From the initial stage, prima facie, intentionally,
deliberately and in a planned manner, the foodgrain was lifted
from godown for sale either in the open market or to smuggle
outside the state of UP or other countries," it observed.

The court directed the UP chief secretary to ensure that
a decision on the application moved by the CBI, state agencies
or other investigating agencies for sanction under various
laws not only in foodgrain scam but all other cases is taken
within a period of three months.

"In absence of any decision with due communication it
shall be deemed that the sanction has been accorded,
chargesheet shall be filed and the trail court shall proceed
with trial to logical end in accordance to law," the court
said.

The CBI was directed to proceed with the probe not only
in cases of scam pertaining to Ballia, Lakhimpur and Sitapur,
but also those of Varanasi, Gonda and Lucknow districts.

The state agencies shall immediately refer all cases
where foodgrain smuggling was done outside Uttar Pradesh or to
other countries to the CBI for further investigations.

Investigations into accusation made against each and
every person should be conducted and completed expeditiously
irrespective of their position and status, the bench said.

"It is imperative to retain public confidence in the
impartial working of the state agencies. A message must be
given by them keeping in view the concept of equality
enshrined in the Constitution that `be you ever so high, the
law is above you`," the court observed. The bench directed that "Director of Enforcement, Union Ministry of Finance shall also proceed with search and seizure of assets, property, cash or kind earned under the food scam
under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Foreign
Exchange Management Act or any other law time being in force
expeditiously".

"The state and the central agencies shall proceed with
the investigation expeditiously and conclude the same within a
period of six months," the court said while directing them to
submit a status report every two month.

CBI and other agencies could probe cases under the scam
which were even beyond the year 2007 if some link or evidence
was found regarding continuation of diversion of food under
various schemes, it said.

"As and when a chargesheet is filed, the trial court
concerned shall proceed with the trial and conclude the same
expeditiously and preferably within a period of one year," it
directed.

The court said that as and when a chargesheet is filed,
the trial court should proceed with the trial and conclude the
same expeditiously and preferably within a period of one year.

It also directed the Registrar General to communicate the
order, circulate it to all courts concerned and submit a
compliance report within one month.

The court directed to provide a copy of the judgement to
the additional Solicitor General of India and the Advocate
General of UP, Director of Enforcement, Ministry of Finance,
Government of India for appropriate action.

PTI