Gujarat High Court

Gujarat High Court: In a criminal application for anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘CrPC’) for offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the, JC Doshi, J. dismissed the application and refused to grant the anticipatory bail to the Ward Inspector in Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.

In the matter at hand, an inquiry was conducted regarding the wealth amassed by the accused, a Ward Inspector in Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The said inquiry was from 01-04-2010 to 31-03-2020. It was alleged that during the 10 years of the said inquiry period, the accused was found in possession of wealth beyond his known source of income. It was also alleged that an amount of Rs.2,75,18,223/- was found more than the total income and expenditure of the accused.

The Court said that prior to the checking period i.e. 01-04-2010 to 31-03-2020, the accused barely had movable and immovable property worth Rs.2,91,313/-, however, at the fag end of the checking period, the accused got movable and immovable property to the tune of Rs.3,25,76,612/-. The Court noted that the income of the accused from the known source during the checking period was Rs. 89,89,694/- and the total expenses during the checking period were around Rs. 42,22,618/-. The Court noted that in the FIR after mathematical calculation, the investigating officer recorded that the accused had accumulated disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs.2,75,18,223/-, which is 306 per cent higher than his known sources of income. The Court said that a huge amount in seven figures was accumulated by the accused as ill-gotten wealth. The Court noted that the father-in-law of the accused gave more than one crore to family members of the accused and said that whether it was loan or gift or payment for some reason, was not clear. The Court termed the said transaction as suspicious and mistrustful.

The Court noted that the investigating officer’s report indicated that, after filing the FIR, ill-gotten wealth, movable and immovable property of the accused worth Rs. 49,66,250/- was also found. The Court said that the accused failed to give any explanation about this huge wealth. Thus, the Court said that prima facie, the present matter appeared as an economic offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (‘Corruption Act’), causing serious threat to the economic structure of the country.

The Court stated that “corruption can seep into many aspects of society, creating a ripple effect of negative consequences. It can erode trust in institutions, stifle economic growth and exacerbate social inequality. Corruption should be handled with strict hands.”

Therefore, considering the nature and gravity of the alleged offence, whereby huge amount of crores of rupees was disproportionated by the government officer, the Court refused to grant anticipatory bail to the accused.

[Sunil Kumudchandra Rana v. State of Gujarat, 2024 SCC OnLine Guj 1675, Order dated: 11-03-2024]

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