A team led by District Judge (vigilance) caught two court staffers and an outsider red handed while accepting bribe in an open court on Thursday. The two court staffers have been suspended with immediate effect and would be handed over to police shortly.
On instructions of Jabalpur main bench, a team of eight led by Indore District Judge (vigilance) Naval Kishor Garg apprehended reader (to the judge) Om Prakash Garg, copyist Mukesh Bhetwar and forest guard Navneet Jain in Burhanpur tehsil court at about 2 pm. Jain was arrested for taking bribe of Rs 4,000, while Bhetwar and Garg were caught accepting Rs 300 and Rs 500, respectively.
Burhanpur resident Suresh Nandvani, who was facing trial under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act (cheque bounce case), at Burhanpur court sent a complaint to Registrar General (vigilance) at Jabalpur last week that Jain had demanded a bribe of Rs 10,000 from him to fix the date for hearings of his case as per his convenience.
In his affidavit submitted at Jabalpur, Nandvani said that he had already given Rs 4,000 in August 2006 to the forest personnel who sat outside the courtroom of Third Civil Judge Class II R P Katrolia and accepted bribe from people on the pretext that he could fix date of hearings as per their convenience.
He also said he had to share money with judge and court babus for this job. Nandvani also complained that the copyist demanded Rs 300 from him to provide a copy of documents he wanted, though the normal charges were Rs 4.
The copyist demanded the hefty sum to provide the copy on the same day; otherwise he would take a month to provide the same. Likewise, the reader demanded Rs 500 for giving the convenient dates.
The vigilance team laid a trap after receiving instructions from Jabalpur. They handed over a tape recorder to Nandvani to record his conversation with the accused. He first approached the copyist who took the money, thrust it his shirt pocket and continued with work at hand. Next, he approached the forest guard who took Nandvani to tea kiosk on the court premises and asked him to thrust eight currency notes of Rs 500 each in right pocket of his pant.
Nandvani obliged while he waited for the reader to come out of the courtroom for a tea break. The latter came and accepted the bribe.
Within minutes, team members who were keeping a constant watch caught the three culprits. Later, they confessed to have taken the bribe from the complainant.
Although the sum demanded as bribe was small, people have welcomed the move to curb corruption prevalent at clerical level in judicial courts.
Chief Justice A K Patnaik in his speech delivered at a function held in Chhatarpur this July had announced his intention to initiate steps for weeding out corruption at clerical level in judiciary. “This is the first step in that direction,” a senior court official remarked.