MUMBAI: A private person involved in a graft case can be tried under the Prevention of Corruption Act even after the death of a co-accused public servant if the trial court has already framed charges, the Bombay High Court has ruled.
Provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act are invoked in a case only when one or more accused are public servants.
The case in hand pertains to a bribery offence in which a postman, a public servant, was arrested along with some private people by the CBI's anti-corruption wing on bribery charges.
During the pendency of the case, the postman died.
The trial against the three other co-accused was conducted by a special CBI court.
When the trial was at the fag end, the special CBI court ordered for the matter to be remanded to a metropolitan magistrate court after the defence and the prosecution pointed out that since the main accused, who was public servant, was dead, provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act cannot be invoked in the case.
Justice Prakash Deu Naik yesterday held that in cases where charges have been already framed by special CBI court under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code against the accused, the same court can conduct the trial and pass judgement even if the accused public servant dies.
The judge was hearing suo moto (on its own) a petition pertaining to the case.
Justice Naik in his order held that in the present case, the trial had concluded and hence the order of the special CBI court remanding the case to a magistrate court was "unwarranted and contrary to law".
"The special CBI judge shall proceed with the case in accordance with law. The additional chief metropolitan magistrate concerned shall return the case records to the special court," he directed.
"Charges were already framed against the non-public servants for offences under the Indian Penal Code as well as under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Evidence of witnesses were recorded and the matter was pending for judgement," the court said.
The accused people's advocate, Prerak Choudhary, had argued that after the death of the public servant, who is a co-accused in the case, the special CBI court has no jurisdiction to try the case since provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act cannot be invoked against private persons.
Such cases should be tried by the magistrate court, he argued.