Declaring unequivocally that no leniency or sympathy could be shown towards corruption by public servants, the Bombay High Court in Nagpur made it clear that wrong acquittal would send a wrong signal to the society.
Dismissing a case of Balim Ghodki, an official of Khadi Gram Udyog Mahamandal who was caught red-handed while accepting bribe, Justice AP Bhangale of the Nagpur bench rejected the request to set aside his conviction since the man died during the pendency, with a terse observation, "I cannot persuade myself to agree with this contention when offence of corruption is proved by sufficient evidence beyond reasonable doubts."
"The Court cannot apply a blanket formula to acquit the accused by giving benefit of doubt to him for the reason that the legal heirs would be benefited if appeal is allowed by giving benefit of doubt to the deceased accused," Justice AP Bhangale noted.
"Court cannot be swayed away by sympathy, emotions or moral approach when in the facts and circumstances of the case no benefit of doubt can be granted, merely with reference to some cases where in the Apex Court may have granted benefit of doubt in some cases continued by legal representatives.
The High Court also made it clear that each of the criminal case is required to be decided with reference to the individual facts of each case which may be different or distinguishable from other case.
Witnesses in the present case appeared natural and truthful. Their evidence cannot be rejected because no guilty man shall be allowed to go unpunished or escape the consequences of the crime committed, it said.
The instant appeal was filed by legal heirs of Ghodki who was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 50 way back in 1988 for early sanction of a Rs 25,000 loan and was convicted under Prevention of Corruption Act in 2001 for six months imprisonment.