India jails staff for 'embezzling' 17 US cents

2015-11-26 17:23


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New Delhi - An Indian court has sentenced two medical workers to a year in prison for embezzling about 17 US cents in public funds more than 25 years ago, lawyers say. 

The two - a nurse and a medical assistant - were found guilty of inflating the number of sterilisation procedures they helped to perform in 1989 to boost their earnings.

At the time, the government was providing financial incentives for medical workers to persuade men and women to undergo sterilisation under a controversial scheme to curb population growth.

The anti-corruption court in the northern city of Meerut held 185 hearings before reaching a verdict on former nurse Noor Jahan and assistant Shobha Ram, who both retired a decade ago.

Defence lawyer Virender Kumar accused the court of a "lopsided" judgment and said he would appeal.

Complete investigations

"We have scamsters who loot millions of rupees from the government but are never punished. And here is a court which jails two people for 22 rupees," he said.

Investigators initially accused five hospital staff in the case including the surgeon, but three of them died during the trial.

Hearings only began in 1998 because it took seven years to complete the investigations.

India's justice system is notoriously slow, with critics blaming a shortage of judges and unnecessary lawsuits for causing delays in trials and creating a huge backlog.

Estimates suggest it would take 320 years to clear the backlog of 31.28 million cases pending in various Indian courts.

Read more on:    india  |  judiciary

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