Pune sessions court rejects anticipatory bail application of Wadgaon Maval JMFC in bribery case
Additional Sessions Judge SR Navandar has rejected the bail application of Wadgaon Maval Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) Archana Jatkar filed under Section 438 of CrPC in connection with a case lodged against her at Dehu road police station by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) under sections 7A and 12 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Apprehending arrest, the judicial officer had approached the court seeking anticipatory bail.
Jatkar was under ACB radar since the arrest of Shubhavari Gaikwad on January 15, who was caught red-handed accepting a bribe of ₹2.5 lakh.
Gaikwad who impersonated 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 of the district.
Shevkar who runs a milk dairy in the name ‘Kadjai Mata Dudh Sankalan’ used to supply milk to Amul Dairy of Khed.
Shubhavari Gaikwad, approached him on January 4 and January 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 Rs. 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.
The judge in his order observed, “The above observations prima facie denote serious involvement of the applicant in the commission of crime i.e. demand and acceptance of bribe through the accused number one (Shubhavari Gaikwad).
There are statements of some litigants to whom the accused number one approached in similar manners in relation to the cases pending in the court of the applicant. In a similar manner, she gave proposals. There appears to be a serious conspiracy that needs to be excavated. The hidden network needs to be traced out and this cannot be done unless the applicant is interrogated in police custody. It is, therefore, the arguments advanced on behalf of the applicant cannot be accepted. The applicant is a public servant. She owes a duty to render services without fear and favour of anybody, particularly when she is working as a judicial officer. When it is prima facie noticed that she is involved in corrupt practices, no relief of anticipatory bail can be granted to her.”
The observation stated “APP PS Agarwal argued that there is sufficient evidence to show that the applicant is involved in the commission of a crime. He has taken me through the papers of investigation including scripts of conversations recorded during verification of bribe and during the trap. According to him, custodial interrogation of applicant is necessary. The offence is very serious and therefore anticipatory bail may not be granted
The advocate for the JMFC argued that the amount of bribe paid to Gaikwad has been seized, she has been interrogated and now released on bail, nothing is remained to be seized from the accused and therefore her custodial interrogation is not necessary. It is, therefore, prayed for grant of anticipatory bail.”
On January 13, 2021, a trap was laid on Shubhavari Gaikwad where she accepted a bribe amount, which consisted of real cash of ₹50,000 and duplicate notes of ₹2,50,000. Immediately, she was taken into custody. When her hands were checked under the ultraviolet lamp, those were found shining with the anthracin powder. Accordingly, a trap panchanama was prepared. Thereafter, an FIR came to be registered and the accused was formally arrested and interrogated in police custody.
The order stated “The learned advocate for the applicant AL Dongare has argued that there are no direct allegations against the applicant in FIR that there is no evidence of her involvement either in demand or in acceptance of the amount and the applicant has been falsely implicated in the case. It is submitted that the applicant came in contact with the accused number one a few days ago when she was in search of the caretaker for her child. It is argued that the applicant contacted the accused number one only for the purpose of securing a maidservant and not with any another purpose. According to the advocate for the applicant, it is possible that the accused number one had taken undue advantage of the acquaintance of the applicant and demanded bribe in her name.”