Judge of local court in Pune held for taking bribe on pretext of favourable decision, sent to police custody till April 5

Published on Apr 01, 2021 05:45 PM IST
PUNE Wadgaon Maval judicial magistrate (first class) Archana Jatkar, whose role was under scanner by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) for allegedly taking bribe on the pretext of favourable decision was arrested at 11 am on Thursday, and has been remanded to police custody till April 5
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HT Image
ByNadeem Inamdar

PUNE Wadgaon Maval judicial magistrate (first class) Archana Jatkar, whose role was under scanner by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) for allegedly taking bribe on the pretext of favourable decision was arrested at 11 am on Thursday, and has been remanded to police custody till April 5.

Jatkar whose bail application was rejected by the Supreme Court surrendered at the ACB office after which she was taken into custody and placed under arrest.

Assistant commissioner of police (ACP) Seema Mehendale, the investigating officer in the case produced Jatkar before special judge SR Navander at Shivajinagar district court and sought six days of police custody. The court rejected her bail application and remanded her to police custody till April 5.

Three people have been earlier arrested in the same case.

The order stated, “This court while deciding the bail application of the present accused vide order dated February 23, 2021, in criminal bail application has specifically observed that there is strong prima facie case against the accused, there appears serious conspiracy which needs to be excavated. It is also observed that there is a hidden network that is working and it needs to be traced out and hence custodial interrogation of the accused is necessary. For that reason only, the anticipatory bail application came to be rejected. Similar are the observations of the Hon High Court in the order dated March 3, 2021.”

Advocate SS Nikam, who represented Jatkar, argued that the other accused in the case have been interrogated in police custody, entire evidence has already been collected and therefore her custodial interrogation is not necessary. She is ready to co-operate with the investigating officer and make herself available for inquiry.

Public prosecutor Vilas Ghogare-Patil demanded her police custody on the ground that there is a big network that needs to be busted. “We have witnesses who have stated that there are seven to eight more land-related matters in which earlier arrested accused Shubhavari Gaikwad (private person) had approached them on behalf of Jatkar to settle the cases and get a judgement in their favour.”

“ACB has to seize the mobile phone of Jatkar. She had spoken to Gaikwad 147 times, with another arrested accused police inspector (dismissed) Jadhav 18 times. During the conversation, Jatkar has taken names of judge Deshmukh and Ajay Gopinathan and ACB has to investigate about it,” the public prosecutor said.

On hearing both sides, Judge Navander stated, “At this juncture, it is necessary to note that the present accused is the key person of the crime. The actions of the other accused were depending upon her moves and directions. The investigating officer has specifically stated that she has to interrogate the accused not only regarding the incident mentioned in the present crime but some other instances also, the mobile found with the accused has to be seized, her connections with the other accused have to be searched and for that purpose inquiry of accused is necessary while in custody. Ongoing through the case diary, what can be noted is that it is not a single transaction in which there is the involvement of the present accused. It is not a single instance that can be just inquired and closed. Considering the scope of the investigation, custodial interrogation of the accused is absolutely necessary, it cannot be dispensed with only because the accused is a Judicial Officer. The status of a particular person cannot become a hurdle for the investigation.”

The first information report (FIR) in the bribery case was lodged at Dehu road police station for offences under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Earlier arrests

ACB has already arrested Shubhavari Bhalchandra Gaikwad (29), a resident of Talegaon, Sushant Baban Kenjale (35) of Ravet and dismissed the police inspector Bhanudas alias Anil Jadhav of Mumbai. They are currently lodged in jail under magisterial custody remand while Ajay Gopinathan, a resident of Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, is wanted in the case.

On January 13, 2021, a trap was laid and Gaikwad was arrested for accepting a bribe amount, which consisted of real cash of 50,000 and duplicate notes of 2,50,000. Her hands were checked under the ultraviolet lamp, those were found shining with the anthracene powder. Accordingly, a trap panchanama was prepared.

Gaikwad impersonated herself as a court staffer and promised to manage the court’s decision in favour of the complainant identified as Swapnil Madhukar Shevkar, a resident of Induri in Maval taluka.

Gaikwad, approached him on January 4- 5 falsely pretending herself to be “Mhatre Madam” and told him that there is a criminal case filed against him in the court of the applicant judicial officer. She also showed him a copy of a criminal complaint and pointed out that it was posted for hearing on January 6 and gave him an assurance that the case will be dismissed by managing the presiding officer if he made a payment of 5 lakh.

Shevkar showed displeasure after which she reduced the amount of bribe to 3 lakh. The complainant, therefore, approached the office of ACB on January 6 and filed a complaint of demand for bribe after which a trap was laid leading to her arrest.

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