The Lokayukta police was once again left red-faced in the court room after a police officer who they caught ‘red-handed’, was acquitted. The investigators and the prosecution failed to establish or prove any of the charges levelled against him.
According to the charge-sheet submitted before the Lokayukta special court, V Raja Bovi, an assistant sub-inspector of police attached to Srirampura police station prior to his retirement, was allegedly caught ‘red-handed’ while accepting a bribe of Rs 25,000.
Bovi allegedly demanded the bribe for dropping the complainant’s brother’s name from the list of the accused in a 2010 case of murder.
The arrest had created a flutter back then as Bovi tried to escape and was apprehended after a brief chase on the city streets.
However, during the trial, it turned out that the complainant’s brother was never included as a suspect in the case. The Lokayukta special court acquitted Raja Bovi on Friday as the prosecution’s subsequent claims of accepting bribe for manipulating the probe fell flat before the court of law.
The Lokayukta police had registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Bovi based on the complaint filed by Ambuvelu that the former had demanded Rs 2 lakh to omit his brother’s name from the list of accused in a murder case (crime number 133/2010).
The complainant had further claimed that Bovi later scaled down his demand to Rs 50,000 and that he paid Rs 2,000 as a token payment as bribe.
Subsequently, the Lokayukta police had registered a case and had laid trap in July 2010, based on this. Bovi was arrested after a brief chase. He had tried to escape in an autorickshaw with the Rs 25,000 paid to him, but was caught ‘red handed’.
Recording of evidence in the case had begun in August 2014 after the police had filed a charge-sheet in the case. However, after hearing both the prosecution and defense, the court on Friday acquitted the accused.
CLAIMS AND COUNTER CLAIMS
The entire case was built around the allegation that the accused (Bovi) accepted bribe to delete the complainant’s brother’s name from a list of suspects in the murder case. However this was dismissed in the courtroom after it was found that the complainant’s brother was never an accused in the murder case. The defence lawyers also pointed out that Bovi was not directly involved with any murder case as an investigating officer.
The accused had claimed before the court that the money he accepted from the complainant was not a bribe but repayment of a loan which the complainant had taken from him in the past.
The defense capitalised on the prosecution’s failure to establish basic motive and demand of bribe in the case; and claimed that mere acceptance was not enough to prove corruption.
It was brought to the court’s notice that the investigating officer in the case did not bother to cross verify Bovi’s claim of loan repayment which finally led to the collapse of the case and acquittal of Raja Bovi.
“The prosecution has failed to prove the demand of bribe amount by the accused, which is an essential requirement to prove the offences under section 7 and 13 of the Prevention Of Corruption Act... Considering all these aspects, I hold that the prosecution has failed to bring home the guilt of the accused for the offences punishable under sec 7 and 13 of the PC Act by leading cogent, concrete and convincing evidence before this court,” the court observed citing the failure to establish the cash as illegal gratification.
Former Lokayukta officials opined that the acquittal was a result of shoddy probe carried out in an amateurish manner by the investigators.
“If the investigating officer had done his homework and counter-checked the veracity of the complaint, he would have realised that the so called murder was not registered and the subsequent allegations will not stand before the law. They should act in a responsible manner, and not waste public money and resource. They should ascertain and verify facts to present a water tight case to ensure conviction,” said a retired Lokayukta SP.
The case had two senior defence counsels representing Bovi – K Janardhan who passed away during the trial, and later advocate CG Sundar.
Meanwhile, the prosecution maintained that the police would seek legal opinion and decide whether to file an appeal in the case.