Cheating, corruption impossible to be committed without serious premeditation: HC

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Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has denied bail to a government official who was recently arrested for taking bribe in Ramban district, observing that cheating, corruption and other white-collar offences are impossible to be committed without serious premeditation.

Mohd Ishaq Bhat, who was posted as an qanoongo (revenue officer) in the Banihal Tehsildar’s office, was arrested on May 27 by the CBI after he was caught while accepting a bribe of Rs 18,000 from a person for processing his application for land settlement.

Bhat’s wife Tahira Begum moved the bail application for his release from judicial custody as her counsel said the charge-sheet against the accused was filed on June 26 after completion of investigation. . He is lodged in the district jail, Amphalla, Jammu.

Hearing the bail application on July 3, Justice Atul Sreedharan agreed with the CBI’s counsel Monika Kohli and said “this court differs in the opinion that an offence under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act can also be dealt with the same yardsticks that may be applied for offences against human body or other categories of offences.”

“It must be borne in mind that offence against human body may be a crime of passion which may at times result in one man taking the life of another in a fit of anger arising at the moment without premeditation and without any preparation. However, offences of cheating, corruption and other white collar offences are impossible to be committed without serious premeditation,” the judge said.

He said a great deal of planning, arrangements and other associations with co-accused persons are required before the transfer of money can take place effectively from the victim to the accused.

“Such persons have their own contacts, touts and agents, who intercede with the victim on behalf of the corrupt official and coax him to part with money for a solution based upon the discretionary power of that public servant,” he said.

Though, this court is not prejudiced by the various instances of corruption that may be taking place in this country vis a vis bridges collapsing one after the other during rains, roads collapsing and huge sinkholes forming after just one shower, it cannot close its eyes to the fact that in a case of bribe, if the accused is released prematurely on bail, the probability of the accused influencing the complainant and the witnesses by offering them monetary benefit is extremely high, the judge said.

“Though the investigation has been completed and the charge-sheet is filed, if the accused is released prematurely, there is a real danger of him attempting to win over the complainant, shadow witnesses and others, who are witnesses to the seizure memorandums, to turn hostile before the trial court,” he said.

He said this apprehension finds force upon the submission made by the CBI counsel that upon search of the residential premises of the applicant, Rs 3.71 lakh was also recovered in cash and that investigation is also underway to trace the proceeds of the crime.

“Thus, it becomes clear that the applicant is flush with funds and that the apprehension that he may try to influence the witnesses by throwing money at them cannot be said to be unfounded. Therefore, this court is of the opinion that the application deserves to be dismissed,” he said.

However, the court said if the material witnesses are not examined within a period six months from the date of this order, the applicant shall be at liberty to renew his prayer before this Court. This order, however, shall not prevent the trial court from considering a fresh application for bail, if in its opinion, there is change in circumstances.

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