The Karnataka High Court has restored the proceedings under Prevention of Corruption Act against four persons, including two sub-registrars, in a case of demand and acceptance of bribe. Justice H B Prabhakara Sastry has directed the accused persons to appear before the special court on August 10, 2022 and also requested the court to complete the trial within six months considering the fact that the case was registered in 2005.
The criminal revision plea was filed by Lokayukta police challenging the special court order discharging the accused on the grounds of invalid prosecution sanction. The accused persons are: Venkatesh Bhat, K R Renuka Prasad (both sub-registrars), L V Shadakshari, First Division Assistant, all part of Jayanagar Sub-Registrar’s office during 2005, and S Nataraj, a private person.
The prosecution case was that the accused had demanded Rs 20,000 and accepted Rs 18,000 to register a document. The Lokayukta police had submitted requisition to the Revenue Department to accord sanction for prosecution. In reply, the state government passed an order on Feb. 13, 2006, initiating a departmental enquiry against three accused. Since the 2006 order did not reject the prosecution request, Lokayukta police kept sending reminders. Subsequently, a fresh sanction was accorded on July 6, 2010 and hence the special court issued summons. However, allowing the discharge application filed by the accused persons challenging the prosecution sanction, the special court on December 15, 2017 held that the state government in its 2006 order has rejected the prosecution sanction. Hence, in the absence of any changed circumstance, the subsequent sanction becomes invalid in the eye of law, the special court held.
Justice Prabhakara Sastry accepted the argument of the counsel representing Lokayukta police that the 2006 order was not an order of rejection of sanction. It noted that the 2006 order nowhere stated that a departmental enquiry would serve the same purpose as what a criminal prosecution was intending to do. It said in a July 6, 2010 order, the state has granted sanction, giving a reasoning after considering the material, including the complaint, FIR etc.