Monday, August 13, 2012

Death no reason to acquit corrupt

For a person accused of corruption, even death offers no redemption, the Bombay high court has ruled. No leniency can be shown just because the accused has died, said Justice A P Bhangale. 

Twenty-three years after Balim Ghodki of Nagpur was convicted of corruption charges and over a decade after his death, the high court refused to show him any sympathy. Ghodki's wife and five daughters had urged the court to give him the benefit of doubt and clear his name so that they could avail of his employment benefits. 

Ghodki was working as an industrial supervisor with the Khadi Gram Udyog Bank. He was caught red-handed in 1988 while accepting a bribe of Rs 50 to sanction a loan of Rs 25,000. In 1989, a sessions court convicted him under the Prevention of Corruption Act and sentenced him to six months jail. He went in appeal, but died during its pendency. In 2001, his family moved the court for his acquittal. 

"Courts cannot be swayed by sympathy, emotions or moral approach when in the facts and circumstances of the case no benefit of doubt can be granted (to an accused)," said Justice Bhangale. "Wrong acquittal will send a wrong signal to the society as corruption if proved, does not deserve leniency or sympathy," he said. 

Ghodki's family cited a 2005 Supreme Court ruling wherein a deceased accused was acquitted giving him "benefit of doubt". But the HC refused. "The court cannot apply a blanket formula to acquit the accused by giving him the benefit of doubt for the reason that the legal heirs would be benefited." 

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