D.S. Tewatia, J.
1. Jagjit Singh petitioner was arrested for offences Under Sections 109 and 409 read with 120B of the I, P. C. and S, 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act arising out of F. I. R. No. 77 dated 10-8-1977.
2. The petitioner's bail application was dismissed by the Additional Sessions Judge Jullundur, vide his order dated 22-8-1977. He has sought bail from this Court.
2-A. Before considering the contentions advanced by Mr. H. L. Sibal. counsel for the petitioner, it would be desirable to notice the substance of the allegations contained in the F. I. R.
3. The petitioner is stated to be one of the four sons of Shri Gurbanta Singh, a former Minister of the Punjab. At the time of partition, Shri Gurbanta Singh was alleged to be a teacher in the Anglo-Sanskrit High School, Jullundur. He had two small houses constructed on the plots measuring 7/8 Marias each. Besides the said houses, he held 12 Kanals 1 Maria of land in village Dhaliwal The petitioner became Chairman of the Market Committee, Jullundur in the year 1970 and continued on that post till it was recently abolished. Apart from that, he held the post of Chairman, Block Samiti (West) and that of the Managing Director of the Central Cooperative Bank, Jullundur, be- sides, being Sarpanch of village Dhaliwal. If is alleged that by abuse of authority and his office, he amassed wealth, in the shape of land, houses, building plots, furniture and jewellerythe details of the property found to be held by him in his own name or Benami are mentioned in the F. I. R. disproportionate to his means during the few years that he held the aforesaid various offices and his father happened to be a Minister in the Punjab Cabinet.
4. Mr. H. L. Sibal, learned counsel for the petitioner, has urged that the investigating officer having held the petitioner in police custody and that the petitioner now being no longer available for interrogation and investigation by the investigating officer by virtue of his being remanded to the judicial custody, and since the person m the position of the petitioner could be denied his liberty only if his custody was necessary for the investigation of; the case, the petitioner deserves to be released on bail
5. There is no gainsaying the fact that a citizen's liberty should receive paramount consideration in all situations and the same can be denied to him for very cogent reasons and only when it is absolutely necessary in the interest of justice and the bail provisions in the Cr.PC are, undoubtedly, designed to achieve the aforesaid objective.
6. The question, therefore, that arises for consideration is as to whether,it is necessary in the interest of justice to keep the petitioner in jail custody.
7. While in the straight and simple cases of criminal offences arising from the F. I. R. it would be a truism to say that once the custody of an accused person is denied to the police by a Magistrate by remanding him to the judicial custody, then certainly, unless other circumstances, such as that if he is enlarged on bail he is likely to suborn witnesses or seeing the severity of sentence, he is likely to make himself scare to the Courts and frustrate justice, warrant, he is to be allowed bail, for in such cases the police by investigation cannot improve upon the case set up in. the F. I. R. which provides almost a cast iron encasement for the prosecution case; but in cases where the charges refer to embezzlement and amassing of wealth beyond one's means, what appears in the F. I. R. and even from the statement of the accused on interrogation by the police, at times merely provides the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The investigation in such cases is a continuing process of unearthing the evi dence and the circumstances strengthening the basic allegations in the F. I. R. to the effect that the accused held wealth and property disproportionate to his means and income.
8. While it is true that the petitioner cannot be interrogated by the police, as police custody is denied to the investigating officer, but during the time he remained associated with the investigation of the case, as is made evident from the perusal of the Police Zimnis, he had made startling disclosures and provided clues which have to be worked out by the investigating agency. The tracks provided by the disclosure statement of the petitioner have to be probed and while so doing, the investigating agency may come across further evidence of the amassing of the wealth by the petitioner. The petitioner, if released on bail, is very likely to cover his tracks and make it impossible for the police to unearth the entire gamut of the shady transactions, if any, allegedly indulged in by the petitioner and to unearth the hidden wealth, if any, allegedly held by the petitioner in his own name or Benami, by forewarning his erstwhile collaborators, who ii interrogated when the petitioner is locked up in jail, may make dangerous disclosures which they may not make if the petitioner is out and has an opportunity to tutor them and make them knowledgeable as to his own police statement. While being in jail custody this would not be so easy for him to do.
9. I am of the view that the corruption amongst the highly placed persons has assumed a menacing proportion in this country, which has hampered, to a very large extent, the progress of the poor society towards prosperity. This rising graph of corruption at higher levels requires to be firmly checked if even a semblance of hope is to be entertained for prosperity and well being of our society, for in the welfare socialist society of our kind most of the development work is undertaken by the Government or semi-government agencies, and if the incumbent beading such agencies indulge in corruption, then such development activities, even if they are of very high magnitude, would fail to make any dent on the poverty of this country, more particularly when the corruption, like water, has the tendency of downward seepage to lower levels.
10. If in view of the menacing nature of corruption almost at all levels of the administration of the Governmental and semi- governmental administrative institutions and concerns, a more pragmatic approach than has been the case so far on the part of the Courts is needed at the investigation stage of corruption cases. In the nature of things, it is otherwise quite difficult to unearth all the ramifications of corruption indulged in by those accused of corruption, but if the Courts show almost motherly leniency towards people accused of high corruption, then it would be well-nigh impossible for the investigating agency to effectively and successfully investigate such cases and help bringing tha culprits to book.
However, by this it is not intended that the investigating agency can take its own time and by being tardy in its investigation of the cases keep the accused locked up in jail and it is precisely to take care of such an eventuality that a very salutary provision in terms of proviso (a) to Sub-section (2) of Section 167 has been incorporated by the Legislature in the Cr.PC 1973, which envisages that no Magistrate shall authorise the detention of the accused person in custody under this provision for a total period exceeding sixty days, and on the expiry of the said period of sixty days, the accused person shall be released on bail if he is prepared to and does furnish bail.
11. As already observed, I have perused the police Zimni reports of this case, including the statement of the petitioner, which make startling disclosures. If the clues disclosed by the petitioner in his statement are to be investigated fully, then not only it is likely that the investigating agency would succeed in securing sufficient evidence in support of its allegations contained in the F. I. R., but it is likely that the police may be able to bring to surface much more property held by the petitioner in his own name or Benami than disclosed either in the F. I. R. or in the disclosure statement made by the petitioner.
12. For the reasons stated, it is not in the interest of justice to release the petitioner on bail at this stage. The petition is dismissed.