ISLAMABAD -  The Supreme Court observed that the menace of bribery has penetrated in all sections of the society and is hollowing the foundation of state. Justice Dost Muhammad said that reduction in sentence in cases of bribery is promoting the scourge in society.

A two-member bench comprised Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Dost Muhammad on September 20 after hearing the arguments of appellant and the state counsels had reserved the judgment.

According to the case, Sajjid Mehmood approached a revenue official (patwari) Muhammad Akram Baloch for mutation of 30 kanals land in the name of his wife and children. The official demanded Rs144,000 as bribe from him. The applicant paid that amount but when he went to get ‘fard’, the official demanded more money as bribe.

Sajjid, therefore, filed an application before the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE). The case was registered under section 5(2) of Anti-Corruption Act. The District and Sessions Judge, Bahawalpure on the challan submitted by the ACE ordered Civil Judge Muhammad Saleem to raid the office of the concerned revenue official and submit a report.

The civil judge asked Sajjid to show him currency notes, which he would give it to the official as bribe. The civil judge noted down its numbers. When Sajjid handed over those rupees to the official, the civil judge later went to his office along with police and recovered those notes.

Due to some pressure, the applicant Sajjid entered into a compromise with the revenue official and gave false statement before the trial court. However, he maintained that civil judge had raided the revenue official office and recovered those notes, which he had given to him. In view of the petitioner’s statement, the trial court released the official.

The apex court judgment noted that trial court should have proceeded against Sajjid for giving false statement, but it ignored it. The SC judgment observed that such acts of the courts taint the justice and judicial system in Pakistan. Justice Dost, who authored the judgment, said if crime of bribery is proved then in accordance with law stricter sentence should be awarded to its perpetrators in order to overcome this scourge. He said in such cases the courts without plausible grounds should not mitigate sentence. He said lenient views in such kind of offenses encourage the culprits and is devastating the society and the country.

The judgment noted that all the provincial governments spent millions of rupees to computerise the land record to curb bribery in revenue department