Corruption not only offence, undermines human rights too: SC

Corruption is not just an offence but also undermines others human rights leading to systematic economic crimes, the Supreme Court today held.

The apex court said a public servant, who is found guilty of corruption, has to be treated as corrupt until he is exonerated by a superior court.

"Corruption is not only a punishable offence but also undermines human rights, indirectly violating them, and systematic corruption, is a human rights' violation in itself, as it leads to systematic economic crimes," a bench of justices B S Chauhan and F M I Kalifulla said.

The bench set aside the Bombay High Court's order of staying conviction of an excise (rpt) excise officer in a disproportionate case.

It dismissed the officer's contention that he would lose his job during the hearing of his appeal if the trial court order of sentencing him two-year jail term for amassing disproportionate assets of around 7.5 lakh.

"Relief of staying the order of conviction cannot be granted only on the ground that an employee may lose his job, if the same is not done," the bench said.

"... when a public servant is found guilty of corruption by a court, he has to be treated as corrupt until he is exonerated by a superior court in appeal/revision," the apex court said while referring to its earlier verdict.

In this case, Balakrishna Dattatrya Kumbhar, Superintendent of Central Excise in Mumbai, was awarded a sentence of two years, along with a fine of Rs 1 lakh for possessing assets disproportionate to his disclosed source of income which was to the extent of Rs 7.5 lakh.

Subsequent to his conviction, he was put under suspension and was served a show-cause notice to explain that why he should not be dismissed from service.
He then approached the high court requesting that during the pendency of his appeal the order of conviction against him be suspended.

The high court allowed his plea and suspended his conviction.
The CBI then approached the apex court challenging the high court's order saying that he should be treated as a corrupt and guilty person, unless he is proved innocent.

Agreeing with the submission of the agency, the bench quashed the high court's order.

"Thus, in the aforesaid backdrop, the high court should not have passed the said order of suspension of sentence in a case involving corruption. It was certainly not the case where damage if done, could not be undone as the employee if ultimately succeeds, could claim all consequential benefits," the bench said.

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