Five Finance Ministry employees, three of whom have retired, and another person have been sent to four years in jail by a Delhi court for fraudulently withdrawing and disbursing Rs 4.2 lakh as Leave Travel Concession (LTC) advances.
Special CBI judge Sanjeev Jain held the six men, including three retired persons, guilty under Prevention of Corruption Act and provisions of the IPC relating to criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery.
The court said a strong and clear message should be given to everyone that no one can conceal corruption and save the corrupt by any means.
"With the passage of time a perception has been made by small section of the society, as if corruption is the safest and shortest way of success which is neither correct nor true. Tolerance to corruption is intolerance to the honesty. Enough is enough. Now, this perception must be repelled," it said.
"The message should be that corruption is not safest and shortest way to success but its a way to jail. Now the writing on every wall should be 'Jo Bhee Rishwat Khaayega Sidha Jail Jaayega' (Whoever will take bribe, will straightaway go to jail)," the judge said while sentencing the convicts.
The court awarded the jail term to Ministry of Finance's Lakhmi Chand, 67, Bale Singh Kasana, 55, Bhagwan Singh, 55, Raghuvender Kumar, 63, and J L Chopra, 70. Chand, Kumar and Chopra have retired now.
The court also sentenced S K D Dass Naik, 52, who was earlier in Ministry of Finance and is now working in Ministry of Rural Development at Krishi Bhawan.
The court imposed a fine of Rs one lakh each on Chand, Kasana, Singh, Kumar and Naik and Rs 50,000 on Chopra.
The court, however, acquitted Purshottam Lal, who was a peon in Ministry of Finance, in the case by giving him benefit of doubt. Two accused-- Ramesh Chandra Shukla and Diwakar Dixit-- died during the pendency of the case.
A case was registered by CBI on April 20, 2000 on the complaint by Indira Murthy, Under Secretary at Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue.
The FIR had alleged that a case of financial impropriety relating to fraudulent withdrawal and disbursement of LTC claims were detected in Department of Revenue and the Special audit conducted for the period April 1, 1996 to March 31,1998, unearthed embezzlement of Rs 4.20 lakh by way of fraudulent withdrawal and disbursement as LTC advances.
CBI said in its charge sheet that in pursuance to criminal conspiracy, 44 bills were fraudulently and dishonestly cleared and a total amount of Rs 4,20,321 was drawn by the accused persons without any entitlement thereby causing corresponding loss to the government.
It said as a modus operandi, accused Shukla and Chopra had either re-processed the applications for LTC advance against which the advances were already withdrawn or prepared the proposals for LTC advance in the names of different officials without any LTC applications.
CBI said that in pursuance to criminal conspiracy, forged acquittance rolls were prepared which were signed by respective accused persons while receiving the amounts and the forged LTC applications were prepared by Shukla.
According to CBI, on clearance of bills in the names of different officials, Kasana, Chand, Dixit, Shukla, Naik, Singh, Lal and Kumar received Rs 20,050, Rs 1,28,597, Rs 98,860, Rs 1,19,700, Rs 40,000, Rs 4,600, Rs 6,000 and Rs 2,564 respectively.
The court, in its verdict, said it has been clearly proved that none of these LTC advance bills could have been prepared, processed, passed without the active connivance of Shukla and Chopra and the payments against the forged LTC bills were not possible without active connivance of respective accused.
"The chain of circumstances; the modus operandi of commission of offence; pattern adopted in respect of forged documents; and LTC advance payments have clearly established that it could not be a case of negligence or bona fide mistake but it was a pre planned execution of criminal conspiracy to gain pecuniary advantage for one or other accused or their mutual benefit at the cost of public exchequer," the court said.