Supreme Court talks ‘tough’ on corruption because a bus conductor took passengers without tickets 23 years ago

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India’s Supreme Court on Monday talked about a ‘zero tolerance’ while awarding punishment to people found guilty of corruption.

While ordering termination of service of a bus conductor employed in Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Coporation, the SC Bench consisting of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C Pant directed that court must deal with corrupt people with iron hand and show no liniency.

The bus conductor in question was accused of allowing 25 passengers to travel ticketless in 1992. The UP labour court and the Allahabad High Court had ordered his reinstatement, but the SC on Monday quashed those orders saying that the degree of corruption was immaterial.

The bench said the HC and labour court appeared to have been swayed by the ‘concept of forgiveness and mercy.’

It added, “When such kind of indiscipline causes financial loss to the Corporation, adequate punishment has to be imposed and in our view such misconduct does not stand on a lesser footing than embezzlement and more importantly results in loss of faith and breaches the trust.”

The bench said that showing liniency to the bus conductor both by the labour court and Allahabad HC was no legally maintainable adding that their decision to give the erring bus conductor an opportunity to reform himself was wrong.

It said, “The delinquent employee has harboured the notion that when the cancerous growth has affected the system, he can further allow it to grow by covering it like an octopus, with its tentacles disallowing any kind of surgical operation or treatment so that the lesion continues. The whole act is reprehensible and such a situation does not even remotely commend any lenience.”