Friday, 11 August 2017

‘Lax’ lokayukta loses five-year-old bribery case

In a trap set by lokayukta police five years ago, three policemen were accused of accepting Rs 3 lakh as a bribe. The cops were acquitted on Tuesday as lokayukta failed to prove their case because a vital piece of evidence – the tape involving the alleged conversations between the accused and complainant – had not been certified by a forensic science laboratory.

The anti-corruption body had taken up the case against three cops, meticulously investigated the case and filed a chargesheet, but it overlooked one basic necessity that eventually led to them losing the case.

What is even more appalling is that the lokayukta even failed to produce the originals of these tapes – the only piece of evidence that could have justified the demand and acceptance, without which a trap can’t be proved.

Money for favours

The case pertained to three cops – police inspector Mohan Kumar, then with Wilson Garden, and constables Doddasiddaiah and Dasharatharama. A trap had been laid on September 21, 2011 based on a complaint by one Prabhakar SR. According to Prabhakar’s complaint, his friend Sridhar was facing a case pertaining to a land issue in Wilson Garden limits and the three accused had allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 4 lakh to help him out.

A trap was then laid and constable Doddasiddaiah had been caught while taking Rs 3 lakh from Sridhar as part of the bribe to help him in the case. The trap had also led to the arrest of inspector Mohan Kuman and constable Dasharatharama. Evidence had been recorded between November 2016 and March 2017.

Five years after the trap, on July 17, the lokayukta special court which heard the prosecution by SP Hubballi and defence by CG Sundar acquitted the three policemen.

Lacuna in lokayukta’s case

The court observed that lax approach by lokayukta missed out on basics to prove the corruption case and failed to establish the prosecution’s case beyond doubt. “Non-examination of material evidence was fatal to the prosecution’s case,” the court said in its final order.

Sridhar, who was a key person in the case, never appeared in court and lokayukta could not secure him either. The court also ruled that the need for the inspector to do any favour for Sridhar never arose as he had already obtained bail from a court. This ruled out the pending ‘official favour’ part which is necessary in any trap case besides demand and acceptance.

“In this case, the original voice recorder and digital camera were not produced before the court and contents of the voice recorded were reduced to writing and were not accompanied with a certificate from a forensic lab, so it is inadmissible evidence,” the court said before acquitting the three.

Further, the court observed that Mohan Kumar’s absence during the trap only weakened the prosecution case against him. Questioning why statements of the staff and public at the KFC in Forum Mall, where the trap took place, were not recorded, the court observed that the non-citing of these witnesses in the mahazar was fatal to the prosecution’s case.

In case of the constable who took the money, it was ruled that mere acceptance was not sufficient to prove a case.

While the cops welcomed the judgment, lokayukta police wing maintained that they will decide if they should challenge the decision after getting legal opinion.
 

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