Himachal Assembly for special courts to try corrupt; with power to attach & confiscate property

Shimla: With a Lokpal withstanding in Parliament, the HP assembly here unanimously passed a bill for setting up special courts to trying corruption cases, which would have a provision for attachment of ill-gotten property till disposal of the case and confiscation if proved.

Debated just before the monsoon session ended, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal hailed the unanimity expressed by the house in passing the legislation.

He said the new law was not a panacea for eradicating corruption but a step in fighting the scourge. The HP Special Courts (Attachment and Confiscation of Property) bill, 2011 was in tandem with Criminal Procedure Code (Cr PC) and Prevention of Corruption Act, he added.

The legislation proposes for constitution of special courts for quick trials of certain categories of offences and attachment and confiscation of ill gotten properties as the existing legal frame work is inadequate to try such public servants and persons holding public offices in a time bound manner so as to curb corrupt practices.

The new law also spells that if the state government is convinced prima facie that a public servant has amassed wealth and properties through corrupt means, they could be attached till final disposal of the case by the special court.

Madhya Pradesh and Bihar have already implemented a law to confiscate properties of corrupt officials, said Dhumal.

Earlier, GS Bali of congress said that since it was legislation that had far reaching implications in checking corruption, it should not be passed in haste.

Sukhwinder Sukku (congresss) said that much of delays in prosecuting corruption cases lay in the delays in investigating them.

Rajesh Dharmani (Congress) asked the government to wait till the Lokpal bill was considered by parliament as too much legislation could be duplicating the same law. However, he withdrew an amendment that wanted to incorporate a clause of enhancing interest payment from 6 to 9% on the property attached, should a person be proved innocent by the special court.

Suresh Bhardwaj of BJP said the law was the need of the hour as delay in dispensing with corruption cases and relatives of the accused enjoying the fruits of ill-got wealth was defeating the purpose of Prevention of Corruption and Cr PC laws.

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