27 July 2022 7:11 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has held that in a case where a public servant is charged with offences punishable under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act on allegation of amassing wealth disproportionate to the known sources of income, every ingredient that is required to be assessed in the source report must be present. In the instant case, Justice M Nagaprasanna noted that...
The Karnataka High Court has held that in a case where a public servant is charged with offences punishable under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act on allegation of amassing wealth disproportionate to the known sources of income, every ingredient that is required to be assessed in the source report must be present.
In the instant case, Justice M Nagaprasanna noted that the Anti-Corruption Bureau did not even know how many years of service the public servant in question had put in. "The check period which is the most important ingredient of a source information report is left vague by stating 'from the date of joining service to till date'."
The Court further noted that even the salary particulars and Annual Property Returns were not looked into by the ACB.
In this backdrop it observed,
"This Court cannot turn a blind eye to the plea of petitioner for exercise of jurisdiction of this Court under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. and obliterate registration of crime against the petitioner, failing which, it would become a classic illustration of a case becoming an abuse of process of law and resulting in miscarriage of justice and above all, putting a premium on the action of the ACB, notwithstanding the fact that 'the ACB blissfully ignored the ABC of procedure'."
The petition was filed by one K.R.Kumar Naik, working as an Executive Engineer in the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited, seeking quashing of FIR dated March 16 registered under sections 13(1)(b) read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
The petitioner was "hauled in" the crime was registered against Sri J.Jnanendra Kumar, Additional Commissioner for Transport by the ACB for alleged possession of disproportionate assets to the known source of income.
The bench referred to section Section 13(1) of the Act which deals with a public servant who is said to have committed an offence of criminal misconduct and said,
"To charge a public servant with Section 13(1) which deals with criminal misconduct, and being in possession of assets disproportionate to his known source of income, there must be a basis."
"The basis emanates from a report. The report in corruption parlance is a source information report. A source information report cannot be generated at the drop of the hat. It is a responsible work of a responsible officer i.e., Inspector of Police, under the guidance and supervision of a superior police officer, a Deputy Superintendent of Police and it has to be drawn up after calculating entire period of service of a public servant and arrive at a conclusion albeit, prima facie, that he has amassed wealth disproportionate to his known source of income."
Highlighting the importance of the source information report the bench said,
"An allegation of criminal misconduct on a public servant is a serious one. Therefore, it cannot be a casual or a frolicsome act of the ACB in preparing the source information report at the drop of the hat. The importance of the source report being thus, it is germane to notice the source information report generated in the case at hand, which on the face of it, depicts it being prepared in a hottest haste."
The court then went through the source information report prepared in the case and said,
"The FIR is registered on 16-03-2022 and source information report is also drawn on 16-03-2022 which is ostensibly done at a jiffy. The Anti-Corruption Bureau which performs a very significant role in checking corruption amongst public servants cannot indulge itself in such a casual act of drawing up the source information report on the instant, registering the FIR and conducting the search."
It held, "The entire narration of allegations which would become criminal misconduct against the petitioner is on the basis of the records found in somebody else's house in connection with someone else's crime. Such a source information report against the petitioner is no report in the eye of law."
The bench then relied on the principles laid down in the judgments of the Supreme Court in the case of Charansingh V. State Of Maharashtra where it was reiterated that a preliminary inquiry may be made in corruption cases.
It then held,
"The entire proceedings instituted by the ACB against the petitioner cannot but be termed to be a mockery of the procedure. The very perusal of the source information report which had to contain all the particulars would indicate that it does not contain any particulars. It was no source of information report in the eye of the law."
Further it said, "Discovery of certain material allegedly belonging to the petitioner could at best have triggered the conduct of a preliminary enquiry and could not become the basis for registration of an FIR, as has been done. There is no preliminary inquiry worth the name that is even conducted by the ACB in the case of the petitioner as every act of the ACB i.e., preparation of the source information report, registration of FIR and conduct of search on the house of the petitioner have all happened on one single day – 24 hours."
Noting that procedures and the time required for these procedures are thrown to the winds by the department the bench said, "Every record is sought to be built up subsequent to the said date i.e., the date of registration of the crime against the petitioner."
Accordingly it allowed the petition.
Case Title: K.R.KUMAR NAIK v. THE STATE BY ANTI CORRUPTION BUREAU
Case No: WRIT PETITION NO. 7911 OF 2022
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 288
Date of Order: 26TH DAY OF JULY, 2022
Appearance: Advocate SATISH K for petitioner; Special Public Prosecutor MANMOHAN P.N for respondent
Click Here To Read/Download Order