Public prosecutors perform public duties and therefore they can be prosecuted for corruption charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, ruled the Bombay High Court on Monday.
"Conducting prosecutions on behalf of state government is nothing short of public service," observed division bench of Justice B.H. Marlapalle and Justice Anoop Mohta while deciding a reference forwarded by another high court judge.
Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari had referred the matter for consideration while hearing a petition filed by Shantinath Patil, an additional public prosecutor from Gadhinglaj in Kolhapur district.
Anti-Corruption Bureau has booked Patil for receiving Rs 500 from one Aruna Shintre for recommending filing of an appeal against acquittal of accused persons in her complaint.
Last year Patil moved the high court seeking to quash the FIR registered against him contending he was not a public servant as defined in section 2(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
His lawyer, V.N. Shingnapurkar, had relied on September 2007 judgment of the high court holding public prosecutors were not public servants.
Justice Dharmadhikari, however, found another judgment holding public prosecutors were public servants and could be prosecuted for corruption, and on March 14 forwarded the matter for consideration of the division bench. Before the division bench, Shingnapurkar contended that public prosecutors perform merely contractual obligation and they could not be brought under the definition of public servants.
Additional public prosecutor J.P. Yagnik, however, pointed out that public prosecutors are appointed as per statutory provisions. They are also conferred with certain powers while prosecuting cases on behalf of the state, he added.