New Delhi: Chief Justice of India has said that “the real costs are difficult to measure since they involve the loss of opportunities for business and investment as well as the diversion of man-power, when it may be usefully employed elsewhere. In some instances, corruption poses a threat to national security and law & order. We are all aware of how smuggled arms and explosives were used for the bomb blasts in Bombay in 1993, as well as the financing of terrorist operations through the ‘Hawala’ currency racket. All in all, the pervasive culture of graft provokes pessimism about the quality of governance”. Hon’ble Justice K. G. Balakrishnan said this while inaugurating a two days’ National Seminar on ‘Fighting Crimes Related to Corruption’ here at Vigyan Bhawan today. This National Seminar was jointly organised by LNJN National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science and CBI.
Hon’ble Justice K. G. Balakrishnan also underlined the idea that our deliberations should focus on how to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases, so that the courts of first instance are able to improve the conviction rate. He also gave ideas to working sessions for deliberations. He suggested that while the substantive definition of offences (under Prevention of Corruption Act) appears to be quite adequate, there have been persistent demands for enhancing the penalties and punishments under the Act. Secondly, he suggested that we should turn our attention to the obstructions in the investigation and trial process. He said that in many cases aggrieved parties have approached the higher judiciary when the requisite sanctions have been denied despite the production of incriminating materials. Thirdly, he touched upon the controversial issue of separation of prosecution functions from the investigative functions of the CBI. ‘Having a specialised team of lawyers will also ensure that they thoroughly scrutinise the investigators efforts in evidence-gathering, thereby improving the presentation of cases’, he added.
Prithviraj Chavan, Union Minister of State Personal and Public Grievances (PP), in his welcome address said that “at this seminar, where the key functionaries of the criminal justice system have gathered, the question that needs to be posed is how to ensure that corrupt are punished severally and swiftly so as to create deterrence in the minds of would be criminals. What is also needed, however, over and beyond the punitive aspects of corruption, is an effective preventive strategy by bringing about systemic changes with your vast experience and personal knowledge of the Institutional Lacunae that promote corruption”. ‘Unless corruption is controlled, it will threaten national security and economic development’ he added.
In his vote of thanks, Ashwani Kumar, Director, CBI recalled the initiative taken by Hon’ble Chief Justice of India in setting up 71 exclusive CBI Courts. He also expressed his gratitude to the PM in accepting the proposal from Chief Justice of India. The Director said that these exclusive CBI Courts should be model and fast track courts with all facilities. He desired that can we think of reducing the number of cases being given to these courts in order to avoid delays in the trial. Earlier, Director, National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science, in his introductory remarks said that “widespread poverty continues to be a major challenge despite the economic strides we have made since 1951. According to World Bank studies corruption adversely affects public sector productivity and distributive justice. Corruption also increases income inequality, weakens governance and reduces citizens trust in effectiveness of their Government”.
Judges from Supreme Court, High Court of Delhi and distinguished legal luminaries including over 60 Special Judges dealing with anti-corruption cases from the entire country are participating in this Seminar. Director:CFSL, 60 Prosecutors / Dy. Legal Advisors as well as investigators of CBI and 6 Delegates from State Vigilance / Anti-Corruption Bureaus are also attending the Seminar.
Four working sessions have been planned for today and tomorrow to discuss the contemporary legal issues. These are (i) Session-I : Facilitating Speedy Trial; (ii) Session-II : Investigation and Trial of Anti-Corruption Cases : Legal Lacunae and other Constraints; (iii) Session-III : How to Improve Presentation / Prosecution of cases by CBI and (iv) Session-IV : Appreciating and Evaluating Electronic Evidence. Each Session is scheduled to be Chaired by Hon’ble Judge of the Supreme Court of India.