'Big fish' must not escape punishment: PM | delhi | Hindustan Times
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'Big fish' must not escape punishment: PM

Asking CBI and state anti-corruption officials to aggressively pursue "high level corruption", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the perception that "big fish" escape punishment must change and they should act swiftly and without fear. HC seeks response from CBI on petition filed by Buta Singh

delhi Updated: Aug 26, 2009 23:18 IST

Calling upon central and state anti-corruption agencies to aggressively pursue the country’s “war against corruption”, Prime Minister Man-mohan Singh on Wednesday said all efforts should be made to ensure that the “big fish” do not go scot-free.

There is a growing perception that “the big fish often escape punishment”, while petty crimes are investigated fast. “This has to change,” the prime minister said while opening the 17th conference of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and state anti-corruption bureaux in New Delhi.

Asking agencies to have a “clear focus on corruption-prone areas so that high-level corruption is pursued aggressively”, he said there was “no single remedy for fighting corruption”. The battle has to be fought at many levels, one of which is to make “existing systems less discretionary”.

Laying emphasis on speedy trials and disposal of cases by the courts, he said: “Trials should be conducted expeditiously and judgments delivered quickly.”

The aim should be to conclude trials in two years so punishment could be quickly given to culprits. He also asked state agencies to set a target to complete investigation in corruption cases within one year.

The government, he said, had launched wide-ranging programmes but the benefits of these programmes, including subsidised foodgrains, loans, benefits of employment programmes, etc, were not reaching the poor. “It should be a matter of serious concern to all of us,” the PM said.

Singh said the world respects India’s democracy, its plural and secular values, independent judiciary, free press and its pursuit of equitable and inclusive growth, “but pervasive corruption in our country tarnishes our image”. It also discourages investors who want transparent dealings with public authorities and expect fair treatment, the PM said.

While people of India has great faith in the CBI, the agency should have a “critical look at itself and introspect deeply to further improve its functioning”, Singh stated.

In his welcome address, CBI Director Ashwani Kumar said the agency had decided to complete all investigations within one year. There are more than 9,000 cases chargesheeted by the CBI presently pending in courts.

“The trial of corruption cases should be completed within a specified time frame, say in a few years. It is possible provided the government, the judiciary and the Parliament are determined and work in close coordination,” Kumar said.