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The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of two laws of Bihar and Odisha which allow confiscation of properties of the accused in corruption cases, including those occupying high public or political office, saying a “social calamity” like graft has become a “national economic terror”.A bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and A R Dave upheld the validity of Orissa Special Courts Act, 2006 and Bihar Special Courts Act, 2009, passed by the two state assemblies, which allow setting up of special courts and confiscation of properties, saying the laws do not violate constitutional provisions.

“In a way, corruption becomes a national economic terror. This social calamity warrants a different control and hence, the legislature comes up with special legislation with stringent provisions,” the bench said.
It said that establishment of Special Courts under these Acts were “not violative of Article 247 of the Constitution”.

The bench observed this in its verdict passed on a bunch of pleas, challenging the provisions of confiscation of properties even before conviction on the ground that these violated constitutional provisions.

“The Chapter III of the both the Acts providing for confiscation of property or money or both, neither violates Article 14 nor Article 20(1) nor Article 21 of the Constitution,” the bench said.

It also rejected the submission of petitioners that confiscation of properties before conviction was a pre-trial punishment.

“It is basically a confiscation which is interim in nature. Therefore, it is not a punishment as envisaged in law and hence, it is difficult to accept the submission that it is a pre-trial punishment and, accordingly, we repel the said submission,” the bench said.

It further said the provisions target the persons who have assets disproportionate to their known sources of income, which is conceptually a period offence and not incident specific where proof of corruption is required.

“This conceptually is a period offence, for it is not incident specific as such. It does not require proof of corruption in specific acts, but has reference to assets accumulated and known sources of income in a particular period,” it said. (More) PTI MNL RKS ARC DV
Source : Press Trust of India

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