SC orders restoration of quashed criminal complaint against V. Senthilbalaji

Corruption by a public servant is an offence against the State and society at large, says Bench

September 09, 2022 03:25 am | Updated 12:28 pm IST - NEW DELHI

V. Senthilbalaji. File

V. Senthilbalaji. File | Photo Credit: S. Siva Saravanan

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the restoration of a criminal complaint quashed by the Madras High Court against Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthilbalaji and others accused of taking bribes in exchange for jobs in the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC).

“Corruption by a public servant is an offence against the State and society at large,” a judgment authored by a Bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and V. Ramasubramanian observed.

Justice Ramasubramanian, who authored the judgment, said the High Court erred in quashing the case just because a “compromise” was struck between the “bribe-giver” and the “bribe-taker”.

The public at large eventually suffers at the hands of candidates who slip into the public service stream through corruption.

“We cannot shy away from the fact that candidates, who are selected and appointed to posts in the government/public corporations by adopting corrupt practices, are eventually called upon to render public service. It is needless to say that the quality of public service rendered by such persons will be inversely proportionate to the corrupt practices adopted by them. Therefore, the public, who are recipients of these services, also become victims, though indirectly, because the consequences of such appointments get reflected sooner or later in the work performed by the appointees,” Justice Ramasubramanian observed.

The judgment found it shocking how the de facto complainant in the corruption case, Arulmani, who worked with MTC, had later become a party to the “collection of money for illegitimate purposes”, filed an affidavit supporting the “compromise” and even went on to claim that he had “never made any allegations against the Minister”.

“We leave it at that in the hope that the employer and the State would take notice of his conduct,” Justice Ramasubramanian spoke for the Bench in the judgment.

The court discarded attempts by the Minister’s lawyers that he had not played any part in the alleged money transactions.

“The person who received the money from the complainant and the victims was stated to be a personal assistant to the Minister. Additionally, the money was said to have been paid at the residence of the Minister with his knowledge and the Minister is stated (in the FIR) to have acknowledged that those who paid money will be rewarded with the appointment orders,” the judgment pointed out.

The court said it did not want to constitute a Special Investigation Team or appoint a Special Public Prosecutor at the moment. “Since we do hope that based on the observations made [in the judgment], the State itself may do the needful,” Justice Ramasubramanian noted.

The court revived charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The judgment directed the State to get any stay orders from the High Court in offences under the Act vacated while keeping in mind the “disastrous effect of putting on hold the prosecution under the Act”.

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