Graft victim can appeal tainted babu’s acquittal: Bombay HC
Shibu Thomas, TNN Feb 20, 2012, 04.28AM IST
· union government|
· Prevention of Corruption Act|
· Bombay HC
MUMBAI: Those who complain of corruption or bribery in the government are "victims" under the law and can file an appeal challenging the acquittal of an accused bureaucrat, the Bombay high court has ruled.
A division bench of Justices V M Kanade and M L Tahaliyani recently expanded the legal definition of the word "victim" in the amended Criminal Procedure Code to include complainants in corruption cases.
The judges said, "In a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the inaction or omission on the part of the public servant of not passing any order on an application or passing an adverse order since bribe is not given would constitute the loss or injury and therefore, even such a complainant would fall within the category of a victim.''
The court was hearing a petition filed by 38-year-old B U Batteli, who sought to challenge the acquittal of two government officers in a corruption case that he had lodged against them.
Earlier, under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), only the prosecution agency could give the go-ahead to file an appeal in any criminal case. Amendments introduced by the Union government in 2009 allowed "victims" to file an appeal without the nod of the police.
They could challenge acquittals or judgments which convicted the accused for a lesser offence, or if the compensation ordered by the court was inadequate. The victims, however, could not appeal against the quantum of sentence awarded by a court.
Advocates for the accused government officers in the present case argued that a complainant in a case under the special anti-corruption law could not be considered as a "victim" as he or she did not suffer any loss or injury.
This argument was dismissed by the court, which pointed out that the special law allowed a person to file a complaint against a public servant who demands a bribe. "The loss or injury caused, therefore, in such a case cannot be equated with the loss or injury caused in the case where the person is inflicted a physical injury, or wrongful loss is caused to his property or valuable security, as in the case where a complaint of cheating is filed," said the court. The judges said that injury in cases filed under the anti-corruption law "is caused by the public servant in not discharging his statutory duty".
For Batelli, however, there was no reprieve. The trial court had acquitted the accused government officers in May 2009, while the changes to the CrPC came into effect only in December 2009. The high court ruled that the change in law did not have a retrospective effect and therefore could not be applied in Batelli's case.