India’s Supreme Court says corruption a vice of ‘insatiable avarice’



The Supreme Court on Feb. 14, said that corruption was cancerous and a vice of “insatiable avarice for self-aggrandizement” by the unscrupulous, who took unfair advantage of their power and authority including those holding public office.

Describing as “startling” the disproportionate assets case against V.K.Sasikala, her two relatives and late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, Justice Amitava Roy, in a separate but concurring judgment, said: “Corruption is a vice of insatiable avarice for self-aggrandizement by the unscrupulous, taking unfair advantage of their power and authority and those in public office also, in breach of the institutional norms, mostly backed by minatory loyalists.”

Referring to the disproportionate assets case in which the top court on Feb. 14 sent Sasikala, and her two relatives back to jail, he said: “The attendant facts and circumstances … , demonstrate a deep-rooted conspiratorial design to amass vast assets without any compunction and hold the same through shell entities to cover up the sinister trail of such illicit acquisitions and deceive and delude the process of law.”

“Novelty in the outrages and the magnitude of the nefarious gains as demonstrated by the revelations in the case are, to say the least, startling,” he added.

Noting that both “the corrupt and the corrupter are indictable and answerable to the society and the country as a whole”, Justice Roy said: “A growing impression in contemporary existence seems to acknowledge, the all-pervading pestilent presence of corruption almost in every walk of life, as if to rest reconciled to the octopoid stranglehold of this malaise with helpless awe.”

Emboldened by the lucrative yields of such malignant materialism, he said that the “perpetrators of this malady have tightened their noose on the societal psyche”.

Suggesting remedial prescription, Justice Roy said, “Individual and collective pursuits with curative interventions at all levels are thus indispensable to deliver the civil order from the asphyxiating snare of this escalating venality.”

Referring to the oath of office an elected representative takes, he said: “A self-serving conduct in defiance of such solemn undertaking in infringement of the community’s confidence reposed in them is therefore a betrayal of the promise of allegiance to the Constitution and a condemnable sacrilege.”

“Not only such a character is an anathema to the preambular promise of justice, liberty, equality, fraternal dignity, unity and integrity of the country, which expectantly ought to animate the life and spirit of every citizen of this country, but also is an unpardonable onslaught on the constitutional religion that forms the bedrock of our democratic polity,” he said.

He also noted that this pernicious menace “has a demoralizing bearing on those who are ethical, honest, upright and enterprising”.

Any interpretation of the provisions of the laws targeted to punish the corrupt has to be “essentially purposive, in furtherance of its mission”, Justice Roy said, adding: “Every citizen has to be a partner in this sacrosanct mission, if we aspire for a stable, just and ideal social order as envisioned by our forefathers …”