Gujarat High Court Refuses To Discharge Former IAS Officer Pradeep Sharma In Land Allotment Case

Bhavya Singh

6 Nov 2023 4:45 AM GMT

  • IAS Officer Pradeep sharma, Gujarat High Court, PMLA
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    The Gujarat High Court refused to exonerate former IAS officer Pradeep Nirankarnath Sharma in a land allotment case, asserting that a prima facie offence existed against him, the trial was in progress with the presentation of evidence, and therefore, it was not appropriate to intervene in the lower courts' orders.

    Justice Sandeep N Bhatt observed, “Under the circumstances, since there is prima facie offence made out against the applicant vis-a-vis the concurrent findings given by both the learned Courts below and considering the fact that the trial is already commenced and it is at the stage of evidence, this Court finds that this is not a fit case to interfere in the impugned orders passed by the learned Courts below. The learned Courts below have not committed any error while appreciating the documents available with them and it is rightly justified.”

    The above ruling came in an application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, whereby the applicant, Pradeep Sharma had contested an order issued by the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Kachchh at Bhuj, which was related to a criminal case filed under Section 239 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This case was linked to an offense registered with the C.I.D. Crime, Rajkot Zone Police Station, involving charges under Sections 217, 409, and 120B of the Indian Penal Code.

    The trial court had initially denied the discharge sought by the applicant, and this decision was partially upheld by the Revisional Court, specifically the Additional Sessions Judge in Kachchha at Bhuj. The Revisional Court's order confirmed the charges against the applicant for offenses under Sections 409 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code while discharging the applicant from the charges related to Section 217 of the Indian Penal Code.

    The brief facts of the case are as under :

    During his tenure as a Collector in Kachchh from 2003 to 2006, Sharma allegedly allocated government lands to Saw Pipe Limited at lower rates without the required permission from the Deputy Secretary, Revenue Department, Gandhinagar. This action was seen as a violation of a Government Resolution dated 06.06.2003, and Sharma was accused of colluding with others in this misconduct.

    Following an investigation, a charge-sheet was filed, leading to a criminal case before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Kachchh at Bhuj. During the trial, Sharma sought discharge under Section 239 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, but his request was denied by the trial Court in 2018.

    Dissatisfied with the decision, Sharma appealed to the Revisional Court, the Additional Sessions Court in Kachchh at Bhuj. The Revisional Court partially granted his appeal, discharging him from the charge under Section 217 of the Indian Penal Code while upholding the charges under Sections 409 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code.

    Subsequently, Sharma filed an application before the High Court challenging the decision of the Revisional Court.

    In its judgment, the Court emphasized that the applicant was well aware that the issue of sanction had not been raised either before the trial Court or the revisional Court below. Consequently, the Court held that without the applicant raising this contention, neither the trial Court nor the revisional Court could consider it. The Court further pointed out that the applicant had only raised this issue for the first time before the High Court at the current stage of the proceedings.

    The Court also observed that upon reviewing the orders issued by the lower Courts, it was evident that both Courts had unanimously ruled against the applicant.

    The Court observed, “From record it transpires that, there is a prima facie case made out against the applicant. The learned trial Court in its order impugned has observed in detail that there is no dispute that the allotment of the lands to the company was made by the orders of the applicant. Further, it is also observed that the said industrial unit – company has made one application and the applicant has made out two more xerox of the said single application and noted in inward register as three applications and thus, by converting one application into three applications, lands admeasuring 20538 sq.mtrs., were allotted to the said company by the applicant.”

    “It is further observed that there is no material on record to show that the allegation is not without any basis. Further, it is also observed that the lands were allotted at lower price to that company by the applicant and without permission / sanction from the State Government and thereby misused his powers and authorities vested with him in the interest of the private industrial unit,” the Court added.

    Furthermore, the Court highlighted that the Revisional Court had upheld the trial Court's decision regarding the charges against the applicant under Sections 409 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code. The Revisional Court also emphasized that before allocating such a significant amount of land to a single industrial unit, the applicant should have obtained approval from the State Government's Revenue Department. The Court additionally pointed out that the Revisional Court, after examining statements from various witnesses, including Government Officers, found that the applicant had approved false remarks.

    With the observations above, the Court dismissed the application.

    Appearance: Mr RJ Goswami, Advocate For The Applicant Mr Mitesh Amin, Public Prosecutor For The Respondent - State

    LL Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Guj) 177

    Case Title: Pradeep Nirankarnath Sharma Versus State Of Gujarat

    Case No.: R/Special Criminal Application (Quashing) No. 971 Of 2019

    Click Here To Read The Order / Judgement

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