Sentenced to two-year rigorous imprisonment

A Judicial Magistrate (First Class) was on Monday convicted by the Ahmedabad (rural) special sessions court on the charges of corruption and amassment of wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income and sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment.

According to the proceedings of the case, Premji Gohil, who was serving in a court at Bulsar district's Pardi in 2002, was found, by the Gujarat High Court vigilance department, of indulging in corrupt practices.

Inquiry instituted

An inquiry was instituted after a number of lawyers in Bulsar submitted a series of written complaints against Gohil to the vigilance department. The department filed a charge sheet in 2005, which also named his wife, Shobhna, and brother-in-law, Pradip Makwana, for alleged abetment in crime.

The department, in its report, had maintained that Gohil had collected Rs.35 lakh from a couple in the form of a “gift deed” and used the money to buy a house in Mangrol. The department also maintained that Gohil had amassed more assets than could be justified by his known sources of income. The charge sheet alleged that the unaccounted-for assets were obtained through illegal means.

The charge sheet contained 42 documentary evidences and statements from 36 witnesses. However, in convicting Gohil, the court primarily relied on the documents relating to his property registration and the gift deed. Prosecution maintained that the gift deed was possibly “cooked up” to provide Gohil an escape route; however, a judicial officer accepting such a gift, in itself, was a crime.

‘Malafide intentions'

The court acquitted Gohil's wife and brother-in-law for want of evidence. While convicting Gohil, the court observed that being a judicial officer, he should have informed the High Court about his properties but had not done so because of “malafide intentions.”