Fine is a good deterrent: Experts

Seven people fined Rs 1.5 crore and Lalu Prasad Rs 25 lakh along with prison terms ranging from four to five years, the sentencing in one of the fodder scam cases has set a new mark in dealing with corruption cases involving politicians and bureaucrats.

Many believe that a sentencing of this proportion would act as a deterrent act for politicians, who already have lost their immunity to continue in Parliament and legislatures for conviction.

This may be the first time that a politician or a bureaucrat is fined with a such big amount though lawyers can recall instances about corporate honchos. In law, there is no limit for fines.

Prominent lawyer Prashant Bhushan said the conviction and sentencing of Lalu Prasad -- a jail term of five years and fine of Rs 25 lakh – is a “good starting point”. He told Deccan Herald that there should be provision to recover the whole amount, which he has cost the exchequer.

There has been hundreds of crores of rupees of loss to the exchequer and Rs 25 lakh is a small amount, he said. “Within the existing law, this is a good step forward,” he said.

Reforms

He was of the view that to some extent, the conviction and sentencing of Prasad would act as a deterrent.

Bhushan said the need of the hour is judicial and police reforms to ensure that such cases do not prolong for years. “It took 17 years for convicting Prasad and this shows that what we need is credible reforms,” he said.

Prominent criminal lawyer Sushil Kumar said he has not seen any such fine for a politician during his career. “These are small amount for these people,” Kumar said in a lighter vein.
He, however, was not sure whether such actions would really act as a deterrent.
“I do not see any change. Such convictions or sentence would not change the system. People have to change from within,” he said.

Besides Lalu, former Bihar Chief Minister Jagnath Mishra has been sentenced to four years and a fine of Rs two lakh and JD(U) MP Jagdish Prasad four years and Rs five lakh.

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