Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Corporator can be prosecuted for corruption: HC

Mumbai: Prevention of Corruption Act and can be prosecuted under the anti-corruption law, the Bombay High Court has ruled in an important verdict. A division bench of Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice U D Salvi dismissed a petition filed by a BMC corporator Vishakha Pednekar who had urged that the criminal case against her under the Prevention of Corruption Act be quashed.

Pednekar, a Shiv Sena corporator elected in 2007 from Chandanwadi, had been booked last year in a Rs-25,000 bribery case. Pednekar claimed she was an elected representative and not a public servant. Her petition further said that she did not draw any salary from the Central and State government and nor did she receive any benefits.
The sessions court had earlier dismissed her application for discharge from the case. “Municipal councillors hold office and perform a public duty,’’ the sessions courtsaid, which was upheld by the HC.
The court pointed out a modification to the PCA, which provided an additional definition for a public servant: “Any person who holds an office by virtue of which he is authorized or required to perform any public duty’’.
The case against Pednekar was lodged by a city-based interior decorator Pramod Kanade, who was in charge of constructing an ATM for Sahyadri Bank in Chandanwadi. The BMC demolished the ATM as no permissions
were obtained by the bank. According to Kanade, he approached Pednekar who allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 25,000 for obtaining permission. Pednekar approached the Anti Corruption Bureau, which laid a trap. On August 20, 2009, Kanade visited Pednekar’s residence and handed over Rs 25,000 to her mother-in-law. Her lawyers said she was an elected representative and not a public servant. Since there was no authority to appoint or remove a corporator, there was no question of obtaining sanction for her prosecution. Additional public prosecutor Jayesh Yagnik referred to an apex court judgment which said that in the absence of an appointing authority, the court could take note of a case under anti-corruption law without sanction to prosecute from the government.

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