High Court says complaint was false, allows appeal

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday allowed an appeal by an Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax against the charge of bribery and set aside the order of a Special Court for CBI, which had, in 2011, convicted and sentenced her to three year’s rigorous imprisonment.

Justice H.N. Nagamohan Das passed the order, allowing the appeal filed by K. Chandrika, who was Assistant Commissioner, IT Circle 12(5) in Bangalore, when the case was registered against her in January 2009 for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs. 2 lakh from Rajesh Sawhney, Chairman of Vmoksha Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

The High Court said that “the CBI has failed to establish the motive, the demand as well as the acceptance of bribe, and the order passed by the Special Court against her had resulted in failure of justice.”

Mr. Das observed that “it was a false complaint filed by the complainant after he was aggrieved by an assessment order passed against his company by Ms. Chandrika.”

It was alleged that the officer had demanded Rs. 10 lakh from the complainant for reducing the concealment of Rs. 3 crore tax in IT returns filed by the company for the assessment year 2005-06. She was “caught red-handed” by the CBI on January 2, 2009, while allegedly accepting Rs. 2 lakh as the first instalment of bribe.

The High Court found that she had passed the assessment order, indicating concealment of Rs. 3 crore, on December 26, 2008, the date on which she had allegedly demand bribe when the complainant met her.

Functus officio

The High Court upheld the contention that as per law she had no authority to review the assessment order and hence, the allegation that she had demanded bribe for reducing concealment of tax was false as she had become functus officio as she had passed the assessment order much before the complaint was filed on January 1, 2009.

The court accepted her contention that the complainant had tried to give her bundles of currency notes in her chamber and she pushed them away with her left hand while refusing to accept them, and it was then the colour of phenolphthalein-coated notes left a mark in her left hand.

Mr. Das also found that the transcript of conversation recorded in an electronic gadget, given to the complainant by the CBI, did not reveal any demand or acceptance of bribe by the officer.

Besides, the court found a series of contradictions in the statement given by the complainant to the CBI and before the court during his examination as witness.