New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has rejected a plea of 98-year-old former Union minister Sheila Kaul against framing of corruption charges against her and others in a 1996 case for allegedly allotting out-of-turn government accommodations.
"No doubt as stated by the petitioner`s counsel mere misuse of the discretionary quota would not be a criminal offence.
"However, when the misconduct is accompanied by the acts of accepting or obtaining or agreeing to accept or attempting to obtain gratification or any valuable thing or any pecuniary advantage for himself or for any other person, the same amounts to be an offence under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act," Justice Mukta Gupta said.
The court dismissed the plea filed by Deepa Kaul on behalf of her mother and former minister Kaul against a Special CBI court order by which charges were framed against her and her additional private secretary Rajan Lala and private assistant R K Sharma in the case.
"No illegality or a legal bar having been pointed out, this court in view of the law laid down by the Supreme Court does not find it to be a fit case for interfering with the impugned order," the court said.
It also rejected the plea of Kaul that the misuse of discretionary quota did not constitute an offence.
"The statements of witnesses have been recorded regarding acceptance of illegal gratification by the personal staff of the petitioner (Kaul). Further, witness Rakesh Gupta has stated about investment of money in different properties by the petitioner and her personal staff," it said.
The CBI, in the charge sheet, alleged Kaul, as former Urban Development Minister, conspired with others for allotting government accommodations for securing pecuniary benefits from allottees between 1992 and 1995.
The Special Court, on February 2, 2012, had ordered framing of charges against the former minister and two others under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI, in April 2003, had filed the charge sheet in the case and alleged that the three accused made out-of-turn allotment of accommodations to government employees after receiving bribes from them.
The charge sheet had alleged that the accused used to directly accept applications from candidates seeking allotment of government accommodations and the minister would pass allotment orders without considering the objections raised by the Estate Directorate.
A CBI probe was started into the case after a Supreme Court direction on a PIL by lawyer Shiv Sagar Tewari.