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HC grants bail to corporator

Bangalore, Dec 2, 2012, DHNS :
Govindaraju
Setting aside the Lokayukta court order sentencing L Govindaraju, Congress corporator from Ganesh Mandir ward in Bangalore, the High Court of Karnataka on Monday granted bail to him.

He was sentenced to four years rigorous imprisonment by the trial court, for accepting a bribe of Rs two lakh.

Hearing an appeal by Govindaraju, Justice Bhaktavatsala granted him conditional bail and observed, “Disposal of the appeal will take a couple of years and is not in the interest of the appellant. The interim application is allowed and the impugned order, dated November 28, 2012, is suspended.”

During the hearing, the counsel for the appellant, citing several apex court judgments, said the sentence could be suspended by the High Court and the accused could be released on bail. However the counsel for the Lokayukta submitted that there were no proper grounds to suspend the sentence, considering its gravity.

She further submitted that if the appellant was released on bail, the complainant and his family would not be safe.

The court, granting bail to the appellant, observed, “admitting that the accused has not been convicted for life and the appeal being the right of the appellants, the court has to re-appreciate the evidence on record and is a fit case to suspend the sentence.

According to the conditions, Govindaraju should furnish a personal bond of Rs two lakh, along with two sureties for the satisfaction of the trial court, which should be deposited in the trial court.

He is warned against intimidating the complainant or the family members or any other witness. He is also directed not to leave the State, without the permission of the trial court and shall surrender his passport.

Govindaraju was trapped by the Lokayukta police on July 17, 2010, after a realtor Udayakumar lodged a complaint stating that he was demanding Rs eight lakh to let him continue constructing an apartment complex in Banashankari 3rd stage.

The Lokayukta Court, finding Govindaraju guilty under Prevention of Corruption Act, had sentenced him to undergo four years of rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 under Section 13(1)(d). He also sentenced him to two years of rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 40,000 under Section 7 of the Act.

After the complainant first paid Rs two lakh, Govindaraju demanded another Rs five lakh. When Udayakumar sought time to pay the rest of the bribe, his construction site was raided and the construction equipment were taken away by BBMP authorities. Udayakumar then lodged a complaint with the Lokayukta police, who laid a trap.

On the morning of July 17, 2010, Udayakumar went to Govindaraju’s house in Lakshmanappa Garden and paid him Rs two lakh when the Lokayukta police arrested Govindaraju, and he was sent to prison. The entire trap was recorded by the complainant on a buttonhole camera.

In a first for the Lokayukta Court, both the video and audio were played in the Court. Udayakumar had received police protection, following a request by him, after Govindaraju was released on bail.

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