Terming corruption as an insidious plague that has wide range of corrosive effects on societies including national threat, K G Balakrishnan, Chief Justice of India today said the menace could be checked if the public servant involved is certain of punitive action against him. “We should focus on how to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases so that the court of first instance are able to improve the conviction rates. The main point here is that for most offences, it is not the quantum of punishment but instead the certainty of punishment which proves to be an effective deterrent,” said the Chief Justice. He elaborated that in recent years, several instances of corruption by high-level officials have been recorded by the higher judiciary in the exercise of their writ petition, but the same do not amount to convictions and hence effective punishments could not be given. The CJI exhorted the need to develop a team of Judges, prosecutors, investigators and scientists to combat corruption in the country during the national seminar on ‘Fighting Crimes related to Corruption’, organised jointly by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences (NICFS). The corruption now is not only confined to money, but the real costs are difficult to measure as it denies opportunities for business and investment as well, the CJI opined. He said the frequent reports of the diversion of food grains from the PDS system show that there is rampant demand of bribes in essential services. Regarding giving teeth to Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), he suggested that seizure of illegal properties and assets of government officials convicted in corruption cases could also be adopted by the State. ''If a public official amasses wealth at the cost of public, then the state is justified in seizing such assets," the CJI said. He said authorities should give sanction for prosecution speedily as its delay will cause loss of vital evidence against the accused. According to the CJI, total of 71 CBI courts are in the offing to reduce the pendency of corruption. “These courts would function across the country and be equipped with the entire modern techniques and equipment to tackle such cases,” said the CJI adding that the new courts will dispose of the arrears result of more than 9,000 pendency cases with the CBI.