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Kerala HC: Public Servant’s Actions Not Dishonest but Contrary to Departmental Rules Are Not Criminal Acts

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Recently, the Kerala High Court dismissed an inspection case and said that under the Prevention of Corruption Act, actions that are opposed to the standards but are not done with the purpose to defraud are not considered criminal misbehaviour.

Facts of the Case

In this case, according to the complaint filed, the Managing Committee, of which the second accused was a member, created the post of Foreman Grade-I (Electrical and Water Supply), and the second accused, who lacked the qualifications for the position, was promoted and appointed to it in violation of the rules and regulations.

Other allegations were also made in the complaint concerning the appointment of various persons in the Devaswom in violation of the rules and regulations.

The special court determined that the accusations in the complaint revealed the conduct of a cognizable offence under the Act and ordered the VACB to file a case against the defendant.

The defendants then went to the High Court to have the charge sheets issued against them by the VACB quashed.

Arguments of the Petitioners

Two of the petitioners’ senior lawyers argued that the Managing Committee had absolute authority to create positions. The new jobs were formed, and appointments and promotions to the new posts were made without violating any rules or regulations, according to learned senior counsel. In addition, learned senior counsel argued that no valued object or monetary benefit was gained by anyone in connection with the promotion.

Arguments of the Respondents

The counsel said that the Managing Committee created the stated job and determined the qualifications for it just to accommodate the second accused in it.

Furthermore, learned counsel argued that the second accused lacked the necessary qualifications to be elevated to that position. He further stated that the second accused was promoted to that position while he was a member of the Managing Committee and that this fact is sufficient to prove that the members of the Managing Committee abused their power.

Observations of the court

The court observed that the essence of the crime under Section 13(1)(d) of the Act is dishonest intent.

The Court held that a simple breach of process in the appointment does not imply that the members of the Managing Committee intended to make a dishonest appointment, especially since the appointment was confirmed by the competent authorities.

The decision of the Court

Hence, in this case, the court determined that dishonest purpose could not be proven based on the facts and evidence in the case, and so permitted the appeals and invalidated the charge sheets filed against the petitioners.

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