NEW DELHI: A Delhi court has sentenced two public servants and three others, convicted in one of the seven National Insurance Company (NIC) scam cases, to four years rigorous imprisonment saying "corruption, if not tackled will lead to death of society by continuous debilitation."
Special CBI Judge Kanwal Jeet Arora sentenced G C Gupta and V P Pandhi, the then assistant managers at NIC who have been held guilty in the company's other cases as well, saying that corruption affects the "efficient functioning of any economic system" and "discourages reliance on merit as a means to success".
"Corruption, if not tackled will lead to death of society by continuous debilitation," the judge said, while also sentencing three private individuals--Munish Yadav, Arvind Kumar Sharma and P C Mohan.
All the five persons were convicted on October 16 for hatching a conspiracy leading to a loss of Rs 2,32,000 to NIC by forging papers to claim a marine policy (an insurance policy meant for goods to be transported between two places) in 1997-98.
The court had convicted Gupta, Pandhi, Yadav, Sharma and Mohan under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with section 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine forged document) of IPC and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).
Gupta and Pandhi were also convicted under sections of PCA separately while Munish Yadav and Sharma were convicted for offences under section 420 and 471 of IPC.
One accused K V Juneja was acquitted of all the charges against him and proceedings against another accused Raj Pal Yadav abated after he died during the trial.
In its 26-page order on sentence, the court said, "Public servants entrusted with the domain over public money, are expected to deal with the same with utmost propriety and transparency, in order to keep the economic equilibrium of the society in place."
The court also slapped a fine of Rs 75,000 on Gupta, Pandhi, Sharma and Mohan, while Rs 4.75 lakh fine was imposed on Yadav for being the main conspirator.
The court also directed that out of the total fine of Rs 4.75 lakh realised from Munish Yadav, Rs 2.50 lakh be given to NIC as compensation.
It said that these are incidents where people instead of thinking for the nation as whole, prefer to think of their own interests or for whom they are interested and "unsettle this equilibrium, which results in widening of the gap between the haves and have nots, instead of bridging the same."
Noting that both Gupta and Pandhi were driven by greed, the court said, "They failed to maintain the purity of public office, which they were holding and hatched a conspiracy to cheat the insurance company by forging documents.
"Character or class is not made in crisis, rather it is exhibited. It is the erosion of the moral character of individuals in particular and society in general and lack of national interest, which has led to the large-scale corruption adversely affecting the social, spiritual, political, economical, educational and moral values of our nation," it said.
Special Public Prosecutor Harish Gupta prayed for the maximum sentence to all the convicts citing relevant Supreme Court judgements on rampant corruption in the country.
Refusing to grant any leniency as pleaded by the convicts, the court said, "A public servant in-concert with others by indulging in such acts, brings disrepute not only to his institution, but to society at large, thus he does not deserve any leniency."
According to the prosecution, on a written complaint of Chief Vigilance Officer K Mahapatra of NIC, a case was registered on June 29, 2001 by CBI which led to probe in several other related cases too.
It had contended that Gupta in the year 1997-1998 had entered into criminal conspiracy with Pandhi, Munish Yadav, Sharma, Juneja, Raj Pal Yadav and Mohan to obtain Marine Insurance claim amounting to Rs 2,32,000 on the basis of false and forged documents and thus to cheat NIC.