SC to examine validity of provision in anti-corruption law


File photo - Supreme Court of India

File photo – Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to examine the validity of a provision in the anti-corruption law in which private persons are being made accused along with public servants.

The top court will scrutinise section 13 of the Prevention of the Corruption Act as questions have been raised that it cannot be invoked against the accused who is not a public servant.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Deepak Gupta, agreed to go into the issue after it was convinced that there was no judgement delivered by the apex court on it.

Advocate Shibashis Misra, appearing in the matter, told the bench that he has done extensive research but did not come across a single judgement on the interpretation of section 13 which deals with the criminal misconduct by a public servant.

He was appearing for a housewife who was named in an FIR along with her husband by the Odisha Police.

The lawyer contended that how could she be charged under section 13(1)(e) of the Act.

The woman, whose husband has passed away, sought quashing of charges of abetment of an offence under the Indian Penal Code as well as invoking of the Act against her.

The case against the husband was of allegedly amassing wealth disproportionate to the known source of income.

The High Court dismissed her petition seeking quashing of the order by the Special Judge, Cuttack, Odisha.

She had also contended that the offence committed by the principal accused, her husband, and a charge of abetment against her would fail when the substantive offence is not capable of being established due to the passing away of her spouse.

The Special Judge by the order of August 28, 2017, in terms of the report sent by the Police Station, held that the case against the principal accused (the husband of the Petitioner) is abated.

However, the case against the wife was directed to be proceeded.

“The High Court ignored the submission of the Petitioner (wife of main accused) that she could not have been charged under any provision of Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 in as much as the aforesaid provision is confined only to public servants.

The Petitioner is a housewife and has been roped in under Section 13(1)(e) of the Act of 1988 as an abettor,” the appeal said.