BENGALURU: A case of corruption against two officials of the Legal Metrology Department has fallen flat, after the Karnataka Lokayukta police jumped the gun on a sanction to conduct a departmental enquiry (DE) against the officials. The Lokayukta police filed a charge sheet assuming that the sanction accorded by the state government was the consent to prosecute the accused.The case has left no scope to re-prosecute the officials who are now discharged from the charges of corruption.
The two officials who got the benefit of the error of judgement on the part of the Lokayukta police are Assistant Controller SV Bhaskar Rao, A&T Unit, and Inspector HK Anandakumar, both from the Legal Metrology Department.While discharging the two from the charges of corruption due to the lapse on part of the Lokayukta police, Judge Manjula Itty, Lokayukta Special Court, raised two questions: Whether the prosecuting agency can file a fresh charge sheet against the accused after obtaining proper sanction order from the competent authority; and whether the accused can be tried for the same offence upon grant of a valid sanction for such prosecution.
Answering these questions, the judge said: “In this case, the sanction was accorded only to conduct DE, which means that the request for prosecution sanction is rejected.
From the substantive evidence of the sanctioning authority, it is clear that the sanction is accorded for DE. Therefore, it can be presumed that the sanctioning authority has rejected the request of the investigating agency seeking prosecution sanction order to prosecute the accused.”
The court further said that once the sanctioning authority had decided to go with the DE of the accused persons, its authority had become ‘functus officio’ (whose duty or authority has come to an end) and it cannot consider or review its own order. Therefore, obtaining a fresh prosecution sanction order is not applicable to the case. As the sanction order was issued to conduct DE, the officials are discharged from the charges made against them, the court said.
The sanction was accorded on October 10, 2017, and was essential because the court cannot take cognisance of the offence allegedly committed by the accused without prior sanction by the competent authority, in this case the state government.
When lapses came to light
After completion of the investigation and on obtaining the ‘invalid’ sanction order, Lokayukta police submitted the chargesheet against the accused. To prove the prosecution case, prosecution examined Umadevi, Under Secretary to Government, who had accorded the said sanction, in response to the request of Additional Director General of Police, Karnataka Lokayukta, dated January 31, 2017. It was found that the sanction was accorded only for DE.
Lokayukta police had filed a charge sheet against the accused officials under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC based on a complaint filed by Timothy Charles, MD of Traegen Systems Pvt Ltd. They were caught on March 4, 2016, while receiving D30,000 bribe for compounding the offence (taking a bribe in exchange for not to take action). They were released on bail.