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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The case in reference is Archana Deepak Jatkar v. State of Maharashtra [Anticipatory Bail Application No. 591 of 2021]
  • The decision in the case was pronounced by Bombay High court Judge J. Sarang V. Kotwal.
  • The case in reference was refusal of anticipatory bail to a JMFC who has been accused for allegedly demanding bribe and accepting it through an associate to pass favourable order.
  • The accused in this case was Archana Deepak Jatkar, a sitting judicial officer designated as JMFC and co- accused Shubhavari Gaikwad, an associate of the accused.
  • They have been charged guilty under sections 7 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

INTRODUCTION

  • A F.I.R was lodged by Swapnil Madhukar Shevkar, a milk vendor against whom a case was filed by Amul.
  • As he did not wanted to pay bribe for getting the order in his favour Sevkar approached the Anti- Corruption Bureau, Pune to file a complaint against accused and co-accused.
  • 147 calls recorded between them indicated clear involvement of the accused who denied these allegations citing she was innocent.
  • The court denied anticipatory bail as the accused was occupying a very responsible position and allegations against the accused were serious in nature.

FURTHER DETAILS

  • The court relied heavily upon the tapped telephonic conversations between accused and co-accused Shubhavari, who was caught red handed while accepting a bribe from the milk vendor.
  • In one such telephonic conversation Jatkar replied that everything would be alright and there would be no issues. “But ask him whether it was for lodging FIR ....or order".
  • The senior counsel appearing for the accused contended that the co- accused took advantage of their close acquaintances and that she was unaware of Shubhavari’s activities. It came as a shook to her when such false allegations were implicated on her.
  • In one such telephonic conversation Jatkar replied that everything would be alright and there would be no issues. “But ask him whether it was for lodging FIR ....or order".
  • In another recording which was played by co-accused in front of the informant where the accused keeps on assuring repeatedly that the case would not stand once she rejected it. Also she said that the case could be kept pending for years together. And gave specific assurance that the case would be cleared.
  • The counsel also contended that the dependence of 11 month old baby should not be overlooked while deciding the application.
  • The court rejected to grant anticipatory bail in favour of the accused looking at the gravity of the case as the phone conversations indicate strong involvement of the accused.
  • Also the court directed that there should be custodial interrogation to find out the exact nature of relation between both the accused and whether in any other cases these 2 have acted similarly.
  • However, the court on humanitarian grounds felt that the 11 month old baby’s plight needs to be addressed. So in event of arrest, the investigating authority shall not deny applicant access to her child. Also all the necessary facilities shall be provided to the baby when the baby is with the applicant.
  • Though the accused prayed for 4 weeks stay on the order the court refused looking at the gravity of the case and the need for custodial interrogation in this case so the anticipatory bail application was refused on these grounds.

BACKGROUND

  • Shevkar's brother informed him that a case was filed against them in Wadagaon Maval court by Amul dairy and whether he had any knowledge about a notice been served upon them.
  • The co-accused gave her phone number to Shevkar’s brother and told him the case was listed for hearing.
  • Upon learning this Shevkar called the co-accused and told that he had no idea about this case.
  • She asked him to come to Emerald Hotel where she told Shevkar that as there can be strong possibility that he and his brother could be arrested for serious offences
  • She suggested that such cases could lead to spending a lot of money for engaging advocates, finding surety, etc. ; and also stated that she could manage the judge and have his case dismissed only if he pays some money. She demanded a bribe of ₹ 5 lakhs initially which was negotiated and later fixed for ₹ 3 lakhs.
  • As he did not wish to pay bribe he approached the Anti Corruption Bureau and lodged a complaint upon which his allegations were verified. During the verification, a phone call was recorded wherein purportedly the accused was speaking from the other side.
  • A trap was set up by the police where the informant Shevkar bought ₹50,0000 cash. The police noted down the number of the real currency notes and exchanged them with fake currency notes on which Anthracic powder was applied. The co- accused accepted the cash from Shevkar in his car.

THE CURRENT SCENARIO

Archana Deepak Jatkar, the main accused and Mhatre @ Shubhavari Gaikwad, the co-accused were held guilty of accepting bribe from Swapnil Madhukar Shevkar, the informant.

The accused has been held guilty for offences under Section 7 (punishes a public servant for accepting bribe) and Section 12 (Punishment for abetment of offences) under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

CONCLUSION

It has been rightly pointed out by Justice Sarang Kotwal that - “Society’s faith in judicial system should not be shaken by such instances”. Such cases of corruption eventually decreases the public trust in justice and weakens the capacity of judicial system to secure justice.
This also results in one of the contributory factors for people taking law in their own hands when there is no trust is left in judiciary apart from delay in hearing of the cases.

Time and again even in the past there have been allegations against judges for accepting bribes to deliver favourable decisions in favour of persons giving bribes.

A person goes to the court as the last resort when no option is left to secure his or her rights. An aggrieved person looks up to the courts in a hope that he can find justice. But it becomes more distressing to find out when justice is made a thing of business.


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