Corruption by public servant punishable under PCA,1988

A special leave petition was filed against a decision passed in September 2020 by the Karnataka High Court. The court upheld the decision of the special court which convicted the petitioner under the unamended  section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 2020 which stood relevant at that time. The Section mentioned the penalty for the offences of Public Servant who took gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act. Along with unamended section 13(1)(d) and 13(2) which dealt with criminal misconduct of Public Servant.

Facts of the case are as below:

The petitioner (accused) was working as Gram PanchayatSecretary of Kavalaga Village. The wife of the complainant was selected under the Ashraya Scheme during the year 2006-2007 for sanction of construction of her house. The amount sanctioned was Rs. 35,000 which was promised to be given in four installments. Two installments were cleared however during the third installment the petitioner refused to give a cheque favouring the wife of the complainant unless they agreed to pay a sum of Rs. 500 to the accused. After refusing to pay the bribe amount the complainant lodged a complaint against the petitioner in Lokayukta police station under the above mentioned sections. A trap was there after laid to catch the accused while committing the crime. He was then caught red- handed after which acharge sheet was filed.

The special court after the trial concluded that the accused was guilty and sentenced him to undergo a ‘Simple Imprisonment’ period of six months along with Rs. 1000 fine under section 7 and an imprisonment period of two years with Rs. 2000 fine under sections 13(1)(d) and 13(2).

A two judge bench consisting of Justices D. Y. Chandrachudand M. R. Shah heard the special leave petition filed and upheld the judgement. They however reduced the imprisonment time from two years to one year and six months under section 13(1)(d) and 13(2) due to his old age.

After the SLP was dismissed justice M.R. Shah however expressed his concerns towards the use of the words ‘simple imprisonment’ and stated that when public officers are involved the courts tend to award simple imprisonment whereas because it is a case of corruption stringent punishments should be granted and the matter should be handled strictly.

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