2011 conviction of principal set aside by Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court law insider
Bombay High Court law insider

Aryan Grover

In a recent decision, the Bombay High Court has quashed the 2011 conviction of a principal of a government-run training institute who had been tried for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and subsequently sentenced to two years of rigorous imprisonment.

The conviction was dismissed on the grounds that the principal secretary of school education department had not applied his mind independently when he sanctioned criminal proceedings against the principal since the erstwhile Chief Minister (CM) had already sanctioned them.

The charges alleged were that the principal had demanded the payment of Rs. 1 lakh as gratification from the management of an institute to get them an approval from the department of education.

The institute had then lodged a complaint in this regard with the Satara police and the principal was apprehended while accepting Rs. 50,000.

The appeal to the 2011 conviction was heard by the single Judge Bench of Justice Bharati Dangre, who was informed that the appellant had been tried for offences under Sections 7, 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and was supposed to undergo two sentences of rigorous imprisonment for two years each.

Girish Kulkarni, counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant, stated that his client was working in a government institute, was treated a public servant, and the procedure against him had been initiated accordingly.

Kulkarni also submitted that since the principal drew a salary of more than Rs. 10,000, sanction to prosecute him was sought from the ministry of school education, who in turn sent the sanction for approval to the CM.

Once the approval was received from the CM’s office, criminal proceedings were initiated, and the principal was tried and sentenced.

While quashing and setting aside the judgement of conviction, the bench observed, The sanction accorded by the sanctioning authority is an invalid sanction, and at this stage, it is also not possible to relegate the prosecution to obtain a fresh sanction since more than a decade has elapsed when the appellant was arraigned as an accused and it is too late in the day to prosecute him with the fresh sanction, at this stage. The lacuna on part of the prosecution, therefore, leaves no room other than to discharge the appellant of the charges levelled against him.”

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