A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking direction to the government to ascertain the feasibility of confiscating 100 percent black money, benami property, disproportionate assets and awarding life imprisonment in offences relating to disproportionate assets, money laundering, tax evasion, bribery, black money, benami property, profiteering, hoarding, adulteration, black marketing, human-drug trafficking and dishonest misappropriation of property by cheating fraud forgery.
The PIL filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay in-person further prayed that being custodian of Constitution and protector of fundamental rights, the Court may constitute an expert committee or direct the Law Commission of India to examine the most stringent anti-corruption laws of the developed countries and prepare a comprehensive report within three months.
According to the PIL , the total budget of Centre, States & Local bodies is 70 lacs crore but due to massive corruption in every public department, around 20 percent of the budget i.e., Rs. 14 lacs crore becomes black money. Government can save this huge money by recalling currency above Rs. 100, restricting cash transactions above Rs. 5000, linking assets above Rs. 50,000 with AADHAAR, confiscating 100% disproportionate assets, black money, benami property and awarding life imprisonment to looters.
“Due to Government’s inaction, even after 75 years of independence and 72 years after becoming socialist secular democratic republic, none of districts are free from bribery, black money, benami property, disproportionate assets, tax evasion, money laundering, profiteering, hoarding, adulteration, human and drug trafficking, black marketing, corporate fraud, capital market fraud, forensic fraud and dishonest misappropriation of property by cheating, fraud and forgery. Due to weak anti-corruption laws, not even a single district is free from land mafias, drug-liquor mafias, mining mafias, hospital mafias, transferposting mafias, betting mafias, tender mafias, hawala mafias, schoolcoaching mafias, infiltration mafias, conversion mafias, superstition¬ black magic mafias and white-collar political mafias, who divide our society on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth”, said the PIL.
It is further stated that corruption undermines democracy and rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets; erodes quality of life and allows organized crime like separatism terrorism naxalism radicalism gambling smuggling kidnapping money laundering and extortion and other threats to human security to flourish. It hurts EWS-BPL families excessively by diverting the funds intended for their development, undermines government’s ability to provide basic services, seeds inequality and injustice and discourages foreign aids and investment.
Corruption is a key factor in economic underperformance and main obstacle in poverty alleviation. Right to life-liberty guaranteed under Article 21 cannot be secured and the golden goals of Preamble cannot be achieved without curbing corruption. So, the Centre and State must implement the stringent anti-corruption laws in order to give a strong message that it is determined to weed-out corruption, black money generation, benami transactions and money laundering. The Centre must take steps to reaffirm the rule of law, improve transparency and to warn looters that betrayal of public trust will no longer be tolerated, alleged the Petitioner.
It is averred in the PIL that the injury to BPL families is large because corruption distorts and disrupts public distribution systems. It is inimical to fostering excellence and has adverse impact on BPL group. Due to corruption even after 75 years of independence, 50% of the population is in distress, leading hand-to-mouth existence and not knowing where the next meal is coming from with abominable health standards and education levels. Much of this malaise is traceable to extensive black money and benami transactions. There is no country in the top 50 of the Human Development Index, which has a significant amount of corruption. There is a correlation between the welfare State with attention to education, public health and absence of corruption. So, Centre & State must take steps to confiscate 100% black money benami properties and disproportionate assets and award life imprisonment to looters.
The PIL submitted that injury caused to people is large because corruption is an insidious plague, having a wide range of corrosive effects on society. Due to very weak anti-corruption laws, India ranked 85 in Corruption Perception Index 2021. It confirms India’s poor performance on many fronts viz. absence of corruption, fundamental rights, open government, public order and security, regulatory enforcement and civil and criminal justice system. Corruption has devastating effects on the right to life, liberty dignity and equality, badly affects social economic justice, fraternity, dignity of individual, unity and national integration and offends other fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14-21.
It is highlighted that the cause of action occurred on 24.1.2022 when Transparency International put India at 85 in the Corruption Perception Index. India ranked 66 in 1998, 72 in 1999, 69 in 2000, 71 in 2001, 71 in 2002, 83 in 2003, 90 in 2004, 88 in 2005, 70 in 2006, 72 in 2007, 85 in 2008, 84 in 2009, 87 in 2010, 95 in 2011, 94 in 2012, 87 in 2013, 85 in 2014, 76 in 2015,79 in 2016, 81 in 2017, 78 in 2018, 80 in 2019, 86 in 2020. Due to weak and ineffective anti-corruption laws, India has never been ranked even among the top 50 in the Corruption Perception Index but the government has not strengthened them to weed-out the corruption, which brazenly offends rule of law as well as right to life liberty dignity and equality guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21.
“Due to outdated rubbish laws, none of the welfare schemes and government departments are corruption free and this is the reason, India ranked 1st in fresh water withdrawal, illegal gun ownership, 2nd homeless population and illegal immigration, in intentional homicides and traffic related deaths, 3rd in C02 emission and 4th in slavery index. Due to massive corruption, India ranked 43 in Quality Of-Life Index, 51 in Democracy Index, 68 in Rule of Law Index, 84 in Air Quality Index, 102 in Hunger Index, 115 in Human Capital Index, 130 in Life Expectancy Index, 134 in Youth Development Index, 136 in Global Peace Index, 139 in GDP Per Capita, 142 in Press Freedom Index, 144 in World Happiness Index, 145 in Education Index, 168 in Literacy Rate and 177 in Environment Performance Index but Centre and State have not amended the anti-corruption laws and policies”, the PIL reads.