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Holding that corruption is a violation of human rights, the Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside an order of the Bombay high court that suspended a two-year jail term imposed on the superintendent of Central Excise department for corruption.

 Bench of judges said, “Corruption  is  not  only  a  punishable  offence  but  also undermines human rights, indirectly violating them, and systematic corruption, is a human rights’ violation in itself, as it leads to systematic economic crimes”

 With the apex court order, Balakrishna Dattatrya Kumbhar — posted as superintendent of Central Excise, Mumbai — would have to go jail until the HC decides on his appeal challenging a trial court verdict holding him guilty of possessing disproportionate assets.

 The CBI had registered the case against Kumbhar on January 8, 1999. After the trial court convicted him on October 15, 2007 Kumbhar had moved the HC under the criminal procedure code (CrPc) to get his sentence suspended. On April 8, 2008 the HC allowed his plea.

 Tuesday’s apex court verdict came three years after CBI moved the SC to set aside the suspension order.

 Accepting additional solicitor general PP Malhotra’s contention that the suspension order would demoralise the employers and other public servants, the bench said: “In the aforesaid backdrop, the HC should not have passed the said order …. In a case involving corruption. It was certainly not the case where damage if done, could not be undone as the employee/respondent if ultimately succeeds, could claim all consequential benefits.”

 Malhotra had argued that Kumbhar must be treated as a guilty person, unless he is proved innocent. Agreeing that the HC order was an abuse of the process of law, the SC dismissed Kumbhar’s plea not to interfere at such a belated stage.


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