Over 18 years after an employee of the state electricity firm was caught red-handed accepting a bribe of Rs150, the Bombay High Court recently upheld a two-year conviction given to him by a lower court.
The employee, Eknath Gaikwad, worked with Maharashtra State Electricity Board as a linesman.
In February 1995, a customer had filed a complaint with the power firm about the faulty meter.
Gaikwad inspected the meter and found that it was burnt and needed to be changed. They demanded Rs400 as charges to fix the new meter. The customer paid up the amount.
However, as the meter was not replaced, a second complaint was made. Gaikwad visited the customer’s house and demanded an additional amount of Rs300 to be paid to “superior officers for replacement of the meter.”
In April 1995, Gaikwad replaced the meter and took Rs150 — a part payment for the “superior officers.”
Subsequently, Gaikwad paid several visits to the customer’s house, demanding the balance amount of Rs150. That’s when the customer lodged a complaint with the state Anti-Corruption Bureau. Accordingly, the police laid a trap and Gaikwad was arrested on April 26, 1995.
During the trial, the prosecution examined at least four witnesses, including the customer. In 2000, a trial court held Gaikwad guilty and sentenced him to two years’ rigorous imprisonment under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The judgment was challenged in the HC, saying that the amount be treated as trivial amount.
However, the court noted that Rs150 was not trivial on the date of the incident.
Further, the background of the case and the amount which was already given, cannot be ignored in such a case.
“Though there was no specific charge in respect of past incidents, the circumstances need to be kept in mind at the time of using such provision and also imposing of penalty,” the court observed.
No petty sum
In 2000, a trial court held Eknath Gaikwad guilty.
The judgment was challenged in the HC, saying that the amount be treated as trivial amount. However, the court noted that Rs150 was not trivial on the date of the incident