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(Feb 24, 2011) On February 21, 2011, in her address to Parliament opening the budget session, the President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, stated that the government will take measures to root out corruption in the country. These measures include ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and improving transparency through other legislative and administrative means, such as the partial public funding of elections. The government has already organized a group of ministers tasked with streamlining the judicial system in connection with corruption; in particular, they will seek "to expedite corruption cases brought against civil servants suspected of corruption and to amend current laws to facilitate bringing claims against public servants." (Megan McKee, India President: Government to Address Corruption, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Feb. 21, 2011), http://jurist.org/paperchase/2011/02/india-president-government-to-addre
ss-corruption.php
.)

On February 10, 2011, the Indian Supreme Court, "in a major move," urged all trial courts to dispose of such cases expeditiously, on a priority basis, and directed the High Courts to monitor the graft cases and to seek quarterly reports from the trial courts on their progress in trying the cases. (Supreme Court Fast-Tracks Corruption Cases, NDTV (Feb. 10, 2011), http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/supreme-court-fast-tracks-corruption-c
ases-84632
.) The Supreme Court's order to fast-track corruption cases follows its conviction on corruption charges of the former Minister of Kerala, R. Balakrishna Pillai, who was sentenced to one year of imprisonment. Trials of such cases, which are conducted in conformity with the Prevention of Corruption Act, are said to "[n]ormally … linger on for along time." (Id.) Another way in which the recent directive will help expedite those trials is that it imposes a time limit on the lower courts; if a court fails to meet the deadline, the High Court can ask it to provide an explanation for the trial's delay or deferment. (Id.; see also United Nations Convention Against Corruption, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime website, http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/ (last visited Feb. 23, 2011); Krishan Nehra, India: Supreme Court Questions Government over Theft, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Feb. 7, 2011), http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205402504_text.)

In 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called for special courts to be established to handle corruption cases exclusively. (McKee, supra.) On January 4, 2011, the Cabinet of the State of Madhya Pradesh approved the "Madhya Pradesh Special Court Bill 2011," aimed at controlling corruption by conducting speedy trials of corrupt officials. The bill provides the special courts with the authority to order confiscation of the officials' ill-gotten gains. Madhya Pradesh is the second state to formulate such a bill; the legislature of the State of Bihar passed its own version of the bill in March 2009. (Suchandana Gupta, Special Courts for Corrupt MP Babus, TIMES OF INDIA (Jan. 5, 2011), http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Special-courts-for-corrupt-MP-b
abus/articleshow/7220204.cms
.)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Government ethics and transparency More on this topic
Jurisdiction: India More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 02/24/2011