Court Matter: A Debatable Verdict : A Dead Man’s Family to Suffer for His Crime

HC: Death is no reason to acquit corrupt man

Shibu Thomas TNN

Mumbai: For a person accused of corruption, even death offers no redemption, the Bombay high court has ruled. No leniency can be shown just because the accused has died, said Justice A P Bhangale.

Twenty-three years after Nagpur resident Balim Ghodki was convicted of corruption charges and over a decade after his death, the high court refused to show him any sympathy. Ghodki’s wife and five daughters had urged the court to give him the benefit of doubt and clear his name so that they could avail of his employment benefits.

Ghodki was working as an industrial supervisor with the Khadi Gram Udyog Bank. He was caught red-handed in 1988 while accepting a bribe of Rs 50 to sanction a loan of Rs 25,000. In 1989, a sessions court convicted him under the Prevention of Corruption Act and sentenced him to six months jail. Courts cannot be swayed by sympathy: HC
Mumbai: Balim Ghodki, an industrial supervisor, had been held guilty of corruption by a sessions court in 1989. He went in appeal, but died during its pendency. In 2001, after his death, his family filed an appeal challenging the verdict and urging the court to acquit him by giving him the benefit of doubt.
The court however refused and said that the evidence against Ghodki was strong enough to nail him.

“Courts cannot be swayed by sympathy, emotions or moral approach when in the facts and circumstances of the case no benefit of doubt can be granted (to an accused),” said Justice Bhangale.
“Witnesses in the present case appeared natural and truthful. Their evidence cannot be rejected as no guilty man shall be allowed to go unpunished or escape the consequences of the crime committed. Wrong acquittal will send a wrong signal to the society as corruption if proved, does not deserve leniency or sympathy,” he said.

     Ghodki’s family had referred to a 2005 judgment of the Supreme Court wherein a deceased accused was acquitted giving him “benefit of doubt”. The high court said the SC precedent cannot be applied in Ghodki’s case. “I cannot persuade myself to agree with this contention when offence of corruption is proved by sufficient evidence beyond reasonable doubt,” said the judge, adding, “The court cannot apply a blanket formula to acquit the accused by giving the benefit of doubt to him for the reason that the legal heirs would be benefited if such an appeal is allowed on behalf of the deceased accused.”

      Dismissing the appeal, the judge said, “Looking into the evidence on record, it appears that the prosecution has succeeded in establishing the fact of the demand of bribe made by the accused and voluntary payment of bribe amount by the complainant and acceptance of the bribe amount by the accused as illegal gratification in consideration of the unlawful promise for getting early sanction of the loan.”


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