22 May 2010

Misappropriation by public servants not to be tolerated: High Court

In a recent decision the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court has rapped public authorities to failing to take proper account of public money. Noting the great laxity with which public money was handled by public servants and particular the officers in the State of Maharashtra, the High Court made it clear in no uncertain terms that it was high time that Government examined the laws and regulations governing public servants to ensure that corruption was weeded out. 

The Bench observed as under;
"14. It is a matter of concern, particularly in the State of Maharashtra, at least since the year 2002, that crores of rupees of public money have been lost due to fraud played in Cooperative banks. At the some point of time, it was thought that it would stop somewhere but it is unfortunate that the said spree of fraud has spread in multiple and the amount of fraud has also increased multiple fold. In my opinion, except for allowing investment of public money from all the public services, local authorities etc. with the nationalized banks, the directions issued by the State of Maharashtra from time to time to invest or deposit the money with the Cooperative Banks in the State of Maharashtra require a serious reconsideration and, in my opinion, recall thereof in order to avoid further loss of public money. Experience of ten years should be sufficient for one and all including the Government."
16. It is thus clear that offences by public servants, bankers of various types of banks/financial institutions holding public money or those holding `key posts' in important public organisations have increased in `unimaginable' proportion as there is hardly any deterrent punishment provided by law. Looking to the upsurge in the cancer of corruption in the country, the only way to have deterrent is now to provide life imprisonment in the Prevention of Corruption Act

The Court had declined the prayer made by the petitioner to withdraw the petition, "taking into consideration the increase in number of incidents of siphoning of public money by those who have dominion over it" where the petition has been filed by Commissioner of Municipal Corporation, Akola in relation of the allegations of mis-handling of corporation money by him. 

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