Supreme Court okays as­sets seizure of graft-ac­cused be­fore con­vic­tion

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The Supreme Court has ruled that the govern­ment can bring spe­cial laws to con­trol cor­rup­tion, which it said was eat­ing away the fun­da­men­tal core of elec­tive democ­racy and con­sti­tu­tional gov­er­nance.

A bench of Jus­tices Di­pak Misra and Pra­fulla C Pant up­held laws passed by Bi­har and Odisha as­sem­blies au­tho­ris­ing the probe agen­cies to con­fis­cate ill-got­ten prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing houses of cor­rupt pub­lic of­fi­cials, even be­fore their con­vic­tion in graft cases. The law was framed to deal with cases in­volv­ing those oc­cu­py­ing high pub­lic or political of­fice.

The bench held that there were no in­fir­mi­ties in the law and turned down a bunch of pe­ti­tions filed by those whose prop­er­ties had been con­fis­cated. “In a way, cor­rup­tion be­comes na­tional eco­nomic ter­ror. This so­cial calamity war­rants a dif­fer­ent con­trol, and hence, the leg­is­la­ture comes up with spe­cial leg­is­la­tion with strin­gent pro­vi­sions,” the bench said.

“...in the con­text of the present Orissa Act, it is as­so­ci­ated with high pub­lic of­fice or with political of­fice that are oc­cu­pied by peo­ple who con­trol the es­sen­tial dy­nam­ics of power — which can be a use­ful weapon to amass wealth adopt­ing il­le­gal means. In such a sit­u­a­tion, the ar­gu­ment that they were be­ing put in a dif­fer­ent class and should be tried in a sep­a­rate spe­cial court solely be­cause of the al­leged of­fence, if noth­ing else, is a self-de­feat­ing one,” the bench said.

Af­firm­ing that there should be zero tol­er­ance to­wards any kind of cor­rup­tion, the bench said, “A demo­cratic re­pub­lic polity hopes and as­pires to be gov­erned by a govern­ment which is run by the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives who do not have any in­volve­ment in se­ri­ous crim­i­nal of­fences or of­fences re­lat­ing to cor­rup­tion, casteism, so­ci­etal prob­lems af­fect­ing the sovereignty of the na­tion and many other of­fences.”

Med­i­cal neg­li­gence cases rise by 400 per cent in the past decade

A re­cent study by Na­tional Law Univer­sity, Ban­ga­lore, found that there has been a 400 per cent rise in the num­ber of med­i­cal neg­li­gence cases filed in con­sumer courts in In­dia in the last 10 years. Against this back­drop, when Maharashtra As­so­ci­a­tion of Res­i­dent Doc­tors (MARD) con­ducted a sur­vey among 1,200 res­i­dent doc­tors on what they thought was the pri­mary rea­sons be­hind the rise in med­i­cal neg­li­gence, 30 per cent of them thought that it was due to the over-ex­pec­ta­tion of rel­a­tives, who felt it was the obli­ga­tion of doc­tors to make pa­tients 100 per cent fit since they had borne the high med­i­cal ex­penses.

On the other hand, a ma­jor­ity (40 per cent) of the pa­tients sur­veyed felt that doc­tors had be­come more neg­li­gent in pro­vid­ing treat­ment to pa­tients. At the same time, 30 per cent agreed that they had over­ex­pec­ta­tions from doc­tors.

Dr Sagar Mun­dada, pres­i­dent of MARD, said, “Both the groups are right from their own per­spec­tives. There has been grow­ing dis­trust and con­fu­sion be­tween pa­tients and doc­tors. This has in­creased fur­ther due to the cor­po­rate hospi­tals where the re­la­tion be­tween doc­tors and pa­tients has changed into con­sumer–ser­vice provider re­la­tion­ship.”

Twenty per cent res­i­dent doc­tors said that the trust deficit was be­cause pa­tients did not un­der­stand the tech­ni­cal de­tails of a case and felt that there was neg­li­gence on the doc­tors’ part. “This is also linked to why pa­tients and their rel­a­tives have high ex­pec­ta­tions. While doc­tors have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to ex­plain the tech­ni­cal­i­ties of the treat­ment, they do not have time be­cause of the huge gap in doc­tor–pa­tient ra­tio. This is es­pe­cially the case in pub­lic hospi­tals where the doc­tor-pa­tient ra­tio is 1:10,5000,” said Dr Mun­dada.

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