Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court has ruled that those under the employment of Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) are ‘public servants’ and therefore can be tried under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Justice M Nagaprasanna passed the judgement in a case where a former general manager of Nandini Milk Products (a unit of KMF) had challenged the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) action against him for amassing disproportionate assets.
The HC said the petitioner being a General Manager undoubtedly performs public duty and the government obligations of such public duty were transferred to the Federation when the Federation was created, therefore, the inescapable conclusion would be that the petitioner would be a public servant within the meaning of Section 2(c) of the Act.
The case was registered against V Krishna Reddy under the Act in 2021 and is pending before the Principal District and Sessions Judge at Chikkaballapura. He had joined KMF as a technical officer in 1997 and reached the post of general manager. An ACB probe found he had disproportionate assets to the tune of 107.70 per cent. He had approached the HC which had granted a stay on the proceedings on March nine, 2022.
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“The figures shown in the assets and liabilities statement run to several crores. The aforesaid facts are a matter of record though they are figures prima facie,” the HC said.
The HC held it does not matter how much percentage of share the Government holds in an entity. But even if a ‘sprinkling aid’ is provided it would be sufficient to bring an employee with the definition of ‘public servant.’ “If the petitioner is a public servant under the Act, the registration of crime against him for offence punishable under Section 13(1)(b) of the Act, cannot be found fault with as it cannot be said, that it is, dehors jurisdiction,” the Court said dismissing Reddy’s petition.
Commenting on corruption in public life, the HC said in the judgement, “It is beyond any cavil of doubt that corruption has percolated to every nook and corner of public life in the country and has become an issue in all walks of life posing a grave danger to the concept of constitutional governance; corruption emerges in various hues and forms and is, therefore, unfathomable.”
Citing the Supreme Court verdict in the ‘Mansukhbhai Kanjibhai Shah’ case, the HC said, “Zero tolerance towards corruption should be the top-notch priority for ensuring system based and driven, transparent and responsive governance. Corruption cannot be annihilated but strategically be dwindled by reducing monopoly and enabling transparency in decision-making.”