Man comes clean in Rs 20 bribe case

25-year wait

In a sad reminder of failure of the judiciary to ensure speedy justice to citizens, a man had to fight a 25-year-long court battle to get his name cleared in a case involving a bribe of Rs 20.

On Tuesday, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court rejected an appeal by the CBI against the order of the trial court. The trial court had acquitted H P Asthana in the bribery case, bringing his 25-year-long ordeal to an end.

Asthana, an accountant, had demanded a bribe of Rs 20 from Inder Singh when the latter had applied for a loan of Rs 500 from his Provident Fund account in 1987.

Then Singh informed CBI about the demand for the bribe, after which the probe agency laid a trap and allegedly caught Asthana while taking the money from Singh.

The CBI filed a chargesheet against Asthana in a trial court in 1987. But he pleaded innocence, saying he was falsely implicated in the case due to personal enmity.

Eight years later, the trial court announced its decision acquitting Asthana.

But the CBI went for an appeal in the high court against the lower court’s order. The appeal was filed seven years after the incident came to light, by which time Asthana had retired.

A single bench comprising justice Sudhir Kumar Saxena on Tuesday dismissed the appeal, saying the court found no reason to interfere with the order of the trial court.

The court also observed that the appeal against the trial court order was filed seven years after the first order. The high court judge said the order of the lower court was logical and correct.

Asthana said he can now live with peace and without any burden of the past.

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