Amidst growing demand of the civil society for a strong anti-graft law and confiscation of black money, the Supreme Court sought amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) to root out corruption in the country.

A bench of justices B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar also favoured amendment to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, to tackle spurious drugs.

“In this country, if there are two laws that need to be changed or amended to act as a deterrent, they are laws relating to anti-corruption and sale of spurious drugs,” the bench said on Wednesday while dismissing the appeal of an Assistant Excise Commissioner in a graft case.

Rejecting the counsel’s plea that conviction of the official Satpaul was erroneous as the alleged bribe amount of Rs. 4,000 was more than the “permit fee” of Rs. 850, the apex court said there was no logic in the argument as bribe is demanded by officials irrespective of the nature of work.

“Today, the Income Tax department owes over Rs. 40,000 crore to tax payers towards refund money. But they don’t give it. Why do you think they are holding the money? Because they want some bribe.

“Similarly, take the case of sale and supply of spurious drugs which is rampant in the country. You may prosecute a person but he would get away paying a fine of Rs. 500. But by that time, the patient would be dead. So, you need to amend these laws,” the bench said.

The apex court also rejected the plea of the convict that since the case related to 1986, it should take a lenient view.

“What to talk of 1986, there are criminal appeals which are filed even after 30 years,” the bench said while dismissing the appeal.

A special anti-corruption court had awarded a three-year sentence under the PCA to the official charged with accepting a bribe of Rs. 4,000.

The Calcutta High Court reduced the sentence to one and half years but upheld the conviction.

The apex court, while dismissing the appeal, said it found no reason to reduce the sentence further as sought by the convict since the minimum sentence under the Act was one year and the high court had already taken a lenient view by reducing the original sentence from three to one and half years.

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June 2021