Staff Reporter

Dismisses petition filed by Superintendent in office of Commissioner of Customs and Central Excise

MADURAI: Evidence to prove that an official handled money received as bribe and attempted to dispose it of on sensing police presence is sufficient to prosecute him on charges of criminal conspiracy, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled.

Justice G. Rajasuria passed the order, dismissing a petition filed by a Superintendent in the office of the Commissioner of Customs and Central Excise (Appeals), Tiruchi, to discharge him from a corruption case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation’s Anti-Corruption Branch had registered the case against him (A3), the Commissioner (A2) and another Superintendent (A1) for accepting illegal gratification from an industrialist on February 21, 2006. The petitioner was charged under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code read with the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the CBI, the bribe money coated with phenolphthalein powder was routed through A1 to A2 who entrusted it to A3 and asked him to give it back in the evening.

The entire conversation between the industrialist and the officials was recorded on a hidden tape recorder. When the CBI sleuths barged into the office, A3 attempted to dispose of the money through an office assistant, but in vain.

The judge disagreed with the petitioner’s contention that he had received the money from A2 without knowing that it was taken as bribe and that he could not be expected to question his higher official about the source of the money.

“Unless there had been prior understanding between the officials, one official will not touch the money which is given by another official, maybe even a top most official. These are all days of approaching the Administrative Tribunals,

High Courts and the apex court for seeking redressal of even ordinary official fiats. Gone are the days where there might have been spine submission to superiors,” Mr. Justice Rajasuria said.

Nevertheless, he issued a certificate to the petitioner’s counsel to file an appeal in the Supreme Court as there was no direct judgment of the apex court on the issue.