''Jo bhi rishwat khayega, seedha jail jayega (whoever takes bribe will go straight to jail)'' should be the rule, said an exasperated special court judge as he sentenced six government officials to four years' jail for corruption.
Wanting to alter the perception that corruption is the easiest way to achieve success, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge Sanjeev Jain said "tolerance to corruption is intolerance to honesty" and "enough is enough."
"With the passage of time, a perception has been made by a small section of the society as if corruption is the safest and shortest way of success, which is neither correct nor true. Tolerance to corruption is intolerance to honesty. Enough is enough," the judge said as he held the six employees of the finance ministry guilty.
"The writing on the wall should be jo bhi rishwat khayega, seedha jail jaayega," said the judge in his order last week.
The judge further observed that it was "high time" that a "strong and clear message" was sent out and registered in the mind of every one that corruption cannot be concealed and the corrupt can't be saved.
"A message should be sent out that corruption is not safest and shortest way to success but it's a way to jail. Corruption is one of the most serious offences which deserve no leniency," the court said.
"No democratic country can progress if the system of rule of law is continuously damaged by the cancerous corruption."
The six accused - Lakshmi Chand, S.K.D. Dass Naik, Bale Singh Kasana, Bhagwan Singh, Raghuvender Kumar and J.L. Chopra - were found guilty of abusing their official positions by fraudulently clearing leave travel concession (LTC) bills, thus causing wrongful loss to the central government.
While Chopra and Shukla were the drawing and disbursing officers in the revenue department in the finance ministry, Chand was working as an assistant and Kasana, Singh and Kumar were peons in the department.
There were three more accused in the case -- Ramesh Chandra Shukla and Diwakar Dixit who died during the course of the trial, while the third, Purshottam Lal, was acquitted.
The six were convicted under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and various charges dealing with cheating and forgery. The court imposed a fine of Rs. 1 lakh each against Chand, Naik, Kasana, Singh and Kumar while Chopra was asked to pay a fine of Rs.50,000.
According to the prosecution, from April 1, 1996, to March 31, 1998, Chopra and Shukla were working as LTC advance dealing clerks in the revenue department and in connivance with other accused prepared proposals without getting proper applications.
Chopra and Shukla, without obtaining sanctions from the officials concerned, passed the bills and advances were drawn fraudulently by other accused people.
The CBI said that in pursuance of criminal conspiracy, the accused persons fraudulently and dishonestly cleared 44 LTC bills and withdrew Rs.420,321. The money was distributed amongst themselves.
A complaint was registered against them in April 2000 by Indira Murthy, the then undersecretary in the department.