The Delhi High Court on Monday said the Delhi government’s Anti-Corruption Branch has the jurisdiction to probe offence of corruption against city police officers who come under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“Any official of the Central government accused of corruption cannot get away with the mere technicality of the Anti-Corruption Branch not investigating them,” Justice Jasmeet Singh said, while dealing with a petition by a Delhi police sub-inspector who challenged the framing of charges against him under the anti-corruption law by a trial court here.
The sub-inspector had argued that the ACB cannot investigate into the offences pertaining to Central government employees such as him who falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs as any action taken by the ACB would be impermissible and contrary to law.
As per the order, a Delhi resident had applied for an arms licence for himself on January 12, 2014. The sub-inspector had visited his residence for inquiry regarding the same. The complainant claimed that the sub-inspector had asked him to pay a bribe of ₹20,000 for sending his report across for grant of the licence. After some negotiation, he had reduced the amount to ₹10,000.
The complainant initially handed over a sum of ₹1,000 to the sub-inspector but recorded the conversation. Later the sub-inspector contacted the complainant again and collected the remaining balance amount of ₹9,000.
Later, during the raid proceedings, the complainant handed over GC Notes of ₹9,000 smeared with phenolphthalein powder to the sub-inspector on his demand.
Subsequently, after the sub-Inspector was raided, GC notes of denomination of 500 and 4 notes of ₹1,000 amounting to a total of ₹9,000 were recovered from him and the serial number of the recovered currency notes tallied with the serial numbers noted in the pre-raid proceedings.
The sub-inspector was interrogated and an FIR was lodged against him. After investigation, charges were framed and the he was summoned. After hearing the arguments, the trial court framed charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act against him.
The police officer later moved the High Court seeking to quash the trial court proceedings on the ground that he has been exonerated in departmental proceedings and hence, criminal proceedings cannot continue against him.
The departmental inquiry came to the conclusion that the conversation of demand for bribe was recorded on a mobile phone, but the same could not be authenticated.
The High Court did not agree with the sub-inspector’s submission that the ACB of the Delhi government can have no jurisdiction to investigate the offence.
It, however, quashed the criminal case at the trial court noting, “When departmental proceedings and the criminal proceedings are a mirror image of each other and the accused has been exonerated on merits in the departmental inquiry, and not due to minor technicalities or irregularities, the criminal proceedings, on the same set of facts and circumstances, cannot be permitted to be continued”.