Monday, July 28, 2014

No sanction needed to try public servant under IPC

No sanction is required to prosecute a public servant under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), even if mandatory approval under the anti-corruption law has been refused, the Bombay high court has held.

Dismissing the plea of two senior Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi) officers to discharge them in a case lodged by the CBI, Justice Sadhna Jadhav ruled that they will have to face trial on charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust for the loss caused to the bank. But the judge allowed the prayer of the officers and transferred the case from the special CBI court to the magistrate's court.

"It is clear that refusal to accord sanction for prosecution under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act can't be held to be relevant to try an accused for the offence punishable under the IPC," said Justice Jadhav, while rejecting the plea of the officers, A S Tewari and S V Karade.

The officers' claim that they had been exonerated in a departmental inquiry and the central vigilance commission had agreed with it, failed to impress the HC. "The onus to prove that they had a guilty intention...when the fraudulent transaction had taken place lies on the prosecution, and only because the department has exonerated them on unwarranted grounds, the prosecution can't be denied an opportunity to lead evidence to prove that the accused had the guilty mind and therefore, there was wrongful loss to Sidbi."

The case concerns Sidbi's agreement with Tata Motors, under which the latter's vendors would be paid by the bank, and Tata Motors would then pay the bank. Sidbi would pay Ranflex, a vendor, through cheques. In August 2008, Sidbi lodged a complaint with the CBI after Ranflex said it had not got payments. A probe revealed that Sidbi had made online transfers of over Rs 1.64 crore to a bank account in Thiruppur, which was a fictitious account in Ranflex's name. Tata Motors said it had never instructed Sidbi to make online transfers.

Tewari, Karade and a bank official, who is absconding, along with 10 others were named as accused. The bank refused sanction to prosecute Tewari and Karade on the grounds that the third official was responsible for the alleged fraud. The trial court discharged the duo under the anti-corruption law but framed charges under the IPC. They then moved HC saying they had approved the transactions "in good faith".

The high court said, "Connivance between the officers/accused who made said payments is writ large on the face of the record. Special CBI court had rightly observed that...criminal conspiracy to cheat the bank... can't be treated as an act done in good faith."

Source - TOI

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