High Court imposes Rs. 50,000 fine on complainant for ‘making baseless allegations’

Observing that baseless allegations had harmed the reputation of the former Advocate-General B.V. Acharya, the Karnataka High Court on Friday imposed a cost of Rs. 50,000 on the complainant while setting aside the case filed before the Special Lokayukta Court against Mr. Acharya in management of BMS Educational Trust. Mr. Acharya is the chairman of the trustees.

The High Court has also set aside the order of the Special Lokayukta Court that had directed the Lokayukta Police to investigate the allegations made in the complaint, and held that the Special Court had referred the case for investigation without jurisdiction as well as without application of mind.

Jayalalithaa case

Meanwhile, the High Court found that there was “sufficient weight” in Mr. Acharya’s contention that the complaint was motivated, and that it was an attempt to humiliate and coerce the petitioner (Mr. Acharya) to quit his post as the Special Public Prosecutor in the disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and others. Mr. Acharya is also a member of Law Commission of India.

Justice V. Jagannathan delivered the verdict while allowing the petition filed by Mr. Acharya questioning the April 21 order of the Special Lokayukta Court referring the complaint, filed by N. Venkateshaiah, for investigation. While rejecting the contention of Mr. Acharya that the post of trust chairman held by him is not a public office and that he was not a public servant, the High Court held that Mr. Acharya was a public servant as per the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act as some of the institutions run by the trust were receiving grants from the government.

‘Sanction a must’

However, applying the principle laid down by the Supreme Court in its January 2012 verdict in the case of Subramanian Swamy vs Manmohan Singh, Mr. Jagannathan said that as Mr. Acharya was a public servant and continued to hold the same post (of chairman of the trust) at the time of filling of the complaint before the Special Court, the sanction for his prosecution from the authorities concerned was a mandatory prerequisite even for referring the case for investigation. “Hence, referring the case for investigation by the Special Court in the absence of sanction was without jurisdiction,” he said.

No offence

Moreover, the High Court held that the allegations made in the complaint against Mr. Acharya “not even remotely constitutes any offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act as the complaint does not even allege that he had either made pecuniary benefits or misappropriated funds.”

These allegations do not constitute the ingredients of the offences alleged, Mr. Jagannathan said and pointed out that the complaint only alleges that honorarium of trustees was enhanced, a huge sum was kept in fixed deposit for development, and facilities such as car and permission to tour abroad were given to the trustees.

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