Comparing public servants seeking bribe to termites, the special court of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday awarded four-year rigorous imprisonment to two Punjab government officials in a 2012 graft case involving ₹10,000.
The CBI judge, Sushil Kumar Garg, also imposed a fine of ₹50,000 each on the two convicts — Tejbir Singh Walia, 64, the then superintendent, department of home affairs and justice, Punjab, and Khushal Singh, who was posted as a clerk in the office of executive engineer, water supply and sanitation, in Muktsar.
The two were held guilty under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 7 (public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) and 13(1)(d) read with 13(2), both concerning criminal misconduct by a public servant, of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
They had sought bribe from a private transporter to give nod to his application seeking extension of the jurisdiction of his arms licence.
Both Walia and Singh pled for leniency. Walia told court that his wife is suffering from serious ailments and he too is suffering from chronic ailments. Singh said he has minor children and an aged widow mother and is sole breadwinner of the family.
However, public prosecutor KP Singh urged court to give exemplary punishments to the two public servants to check rampant corruption.
While observing both convicts have no past criminal record, the judge said their conduct was “highly deplorable” and they didn’t deserve any leniency.
Sharing an anecdote, the judge mentioned in the order: “It is worth quoting here that in a locality a mango tree was planted by residents. It was nursed and cared immensely. It bore honey sweet mangoes. The entire populace of locality enjoyed the fruit. However, with passage of time, termites ate up the roots of the tree. As a consequence, the tree dried up and stopped bearing the fruit. Not only the man who had planted tree, but the entire populace was deprived of the fruit. Termites, who ate up tree, had not contributed towards its growth and nursing.”
“Similarly, the persons of the ilk of the convicts are the termites responsible for eating up the roots of the societal and fiscal tree of nation and thereby depriving the entire nations of the fruits of that tree,” he said.
Rajinder Singh, a private transporter, had complained to the CBI on August 28, 2012. He alleged he had applied for extension of the jurisdiction of his arms licence valid in Punjab to Chandigarh, Haryana and Rajasthan. The application was forwarded to the secretary, department of home affairs and justice, Punjab, but he got to know that it was misplaced.
On August 23, 2012, he discussed the issue with Khushal Singh, who instructed him to meet Walia and pay ₹10,000 bribe. Even Walia assured him that the work will be done, but after he paid the bribe.
As Rajinder did not want to give the bribe, he approached the CBI, following which a trap was laid to catch the two officials red-handed.
During the trial, the complainant died while the process of recording the statement was pending. However, statements of all prosecution witnesses helped nail the duo.
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