1 Sep 2023 8:27 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has asked the Karnataka Lokayukta to "set its house in order" by directing completion of investigation registered against public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act, within a time frame. A single bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna sitting at Dharwad said, “This Court has come across several cases where investigation has gone on for ages and no final report...
The Karnataka High Court has asked the Karnataka Lokayukta to "set its house in order" by directing completion of investigation registered against public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act, within a time frame.
A single bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna sitting at Dharwad said, “This Court has come across several cases where investigation has gone on for ages and no final report was filed. It, therefore, speaks volumes of lackadaisical attitude on the part of the prosecution/ Lokayukta.”
It added, “In this view of the matter, the Lokayukta is required to set its house in order by directing completion of investigation within a time frame failing which the ‘Damocles sword’ of prosecution will always be hanging on the head of the public servant and defeat several of his rights, if any. It is hoped that this case would become an eye opener for speedy completion of investigation for which lack of will of the Lokayukta has to be effaced.”
The observations were made while rejecting a petition filed by one Dr. Kallappa Mahadevappa Hosamani, a college professor, who has been booked under Section 13(1)(b) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, in 2019.
The petitioner had approached the court seeking to quash the offence claiming that the chargesheet has not been filed despite passage of 3 years and he wants to apply for the post of Vice-Chancellor of the University as he has retired on attaining the age of superannuation and his eligibility would expire on 30th August 2022.
It was argued that so long as the crime is pending on his head, he is unable to apply for any post, thus taking away his fundamental right.
The prosecution opposed the plea saying that in a similar plea filed earlier, the Court had considered all these submissions and had directed the petitioner to avail of appropriate remedy after filing of the charge sheet. It was also alleged that the delay was caused by the petitioner himself by delaying submission of bank records. Moreover, he claimed to have 20 bank accounts but it was discovered that he has 58 bank accounts and deciphering the transactions in such accounts had led to gross delay. It was assured that everything is now ready and the final report would be filed before the concerned Court within 2 months.
The bench on going through the records and referring to the coordinate bench order said, “Liberty was reserved in the petitioner to avail all such remedy in the event the charge sheet is filed against him. The order was passed on 27th August 2020 and we are now on 10th August 2023. Even then the final report is not filed by the respondent/Lokayukta.”
Court said in the normal circumstances if four years had been taken for filing a charge sheet in any matter, except in heinous offences or economic offences, it would have viewed that with a different lens. However, the case at hand was one of disproportionate assets of upto 136%.
It said, “Whether they are fanciful figures or simply projected without any realm or reason cannot at this juncture be considered particularly in the light of the fact that the petitioner had approached this Court earlier calling in question the very same registration of crime on the very same grounds and has suffered an order of dismissal and the said order has become final.”
Taking into account that petitioner holds various bank accounts, the court held, “If in the teeth of the aforesaid facts the petitioner is left off the hook on the score that despite passage of 4 years no charge sheet has been filed, it would run counter to law.”
Rejecting the contention of the petitioner that he is deprived of his right of application for the post of Vice-Chancellor and therefore, the proceedings should be quashed, the bench held,
“Petitioner that has led to the situation that he is now been shrouded with. If only all the information at the outset had been divulged by the petitioner, the situation that has now emerged would not have been there. Therefore, on the score that the petitioner cannot apply to the post of ViceChancellor on account of pendency of crime and for that reason it should be quashed is noted only to be rejected.”
Finally it held, “The enormous task that was faced by the prosecution to unearth transactions of the petitioner had undoubtedly taken time. Therefore, the delay in the peculiar facts of the case at hand is not vital which would lead to obliteration of the crime itself.”
Accordingly, it dismissed the petition and directed the Lokayukta to file its final report within 2 months. In the event the final report is not filed within the said time, the concerned Court is at liberty to draw adverse inference against the Lokayukta.
Case Title: Dr Kallappa Mahadevappa Hosmani AND The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Karnataka Lokayukt.
Case No: Criminal Petition No. 103443 OF 2022
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 338
Date of Order: 16-08-2023
Appearance: Senior Advocate Gurudas Khannur for Advocate A S Patil for Petitioner.
Advocate Anil Kale for Respondent.
Click Here To Read/Download Order