Delhi HC rul­ing on re­pealed cor­rup­tion law pro­vi­sion may af­fect CBI case against Hooda

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - NEWS - Hi­ten­der Rao hrao@hin­dus­tan­times.com

CHANDI­GARH: A Delhi high court rul­ing on a re­pealed pro­vi­sion of the Preven­tion of Cor­rup­tion Act could have a bear­ing on the cor­rup­tion charges be­ing heard by a CBI court against for­mer Haryana chief min­is­ter Bhupin­der Singh Hooda.

Jus­tice Vibhu Bakhru of the HC in a May 22 judg­ment ruled that per­sons con­victed of com­mit­ting the of­fence of crim­i­nal mis­con­duct un­der Sec­tion 13 (1) (d) of the Preven­tion of Cor­rup­tion Act would not be ab­solved of their of­fences or the li­a­bil­ity as the leg­isla­tive in­tent of re­peal­ing this sec­tion was not to ex­clude the said of­fence from the scope of Act with ret­ro­spec­tive ef­fect.

The HC gave its ver­dict on an ap­peal by for­mer Jhark­hand chief min­is­ter Madhu Koda con­victed of crim­i­nal mis­con­duct un­der Sec­tion 13 in the coal scam who ar­gued that he was li­able to be ac­quit­ted in view of the en­act­ment of the Preven­tion of Cor­rup­tion (Amend­ment) Act, 2018. Since the mis­con­duct as con­tem­plated un­der Sec­tion 13 (1) (d) is no longer an of­fence pun­ish­able un­der the Act due to an amend­ment, the ben­e­fit of the same ought to be ex­tended to him, the ap­pel­lant con­tended.

CASE AGAINST HOODA

The CBI court hear­ing charges against Hooda and oth­ers in the Mane­sar land re­lease case had stopped short of fram­ing charges af­ter the ac­cused filed dis­charge ap­pli­ca­tions dis­put­ing CBI’s move to bring into play Sec­tion 13 (1) (d) of Act which was re­pealed in 2018 when the law was amended by the Par­lia­ment. The court has not been able to frame charges against the ac­cused and com­mence trial de­spite the fact that ar­gu­ments on the charges got con­cluded in Fe­bru­ary.

HC RUL­ING SIG­NIF­I­CANT

While the Supreme Court is yet to ad­ju­di­cate the con­tentious is­sue of le­git­i­macy of the re­pealed Sec­tion 13, the HC rul­ing is sig­nif­i­cant, le­gal ex­perts say.

“This court is un­able to ac­cept that the PC (amend­ment) Act, 2018 seeks to re­peal the pro­vi­sions of Sec­tion 13 (1)(d) of the Act as it ex­isted prior to July 26, 2018 ab ini­tio. Mens rea (the in­ten­tion and knowl­edge of wrong­do­ing) is an in­te­gral part of the of­fence un­der sec­tion 13(1)(d). There is no rea­son to as­sume that the leg­isla­tive in­tent of re­peal­ing this sec­tion was to ex­clude the said of­fence from the scope of PC Act with ret­ro­spec­tive ef­fect,” the HC ruled.

This court is un­able to ac­cept that if it is es­tab­lished be­yond rea­son­able doubt that the ap­pel­lant had abused his po­si­tion for se­cur­ing a pe­cu­niary ad­van­tage to Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Lim­ited, the ben­e­fit of any ben­e­fi­cial con­struc­tion of the Preven­tion of Cor­rup­tion (Amend­ment) Act, 2018 could be ex­tended to him, the judge said.

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