New Delhi: Protection given to government servants against prosecution is in public interest and cannot be treated as a shield to save corrupt officials, a Delhi court has said.
"Public servants have, in fact, been treated as special category under Section 197 of the CrPC to protect them from malicious or vexatious prosecution. Such protection from harassment is given in public interest and the same cannot be treated as a shield to protect corrupt officials," Special CBI judge Bhupesh Kumar said.
Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) stipulates that no court should take cognisance of criminal charges against a public servant unless prior sanction to prosecute is obtained from the competent authority.
The court made this observation while upholding the conviction of and three-year sentence to postmaster Rajender Kumar Sharma, who took deposits of more than Rs 3.59 lakh from several account-holders, but used it for his own use.
It rejected the contention of Sharma that no sanction was obtained from the authorities concerned under Section 197 of the CrPC to prosecute him.
The court said that the act of the appellant in committing breach of trust and manipulating and falsifying the record cannot be termed as part of his official duties.
"The alleged indulgence of the officers in cheating, fabrication of records or misappropriation cannot be said to be in discharge of their official duty," it said.
The court dismissed Sharma's appeal and held him guilty under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 477 A (falsification of accounts) of IPC and sentenced him to three years' rigorous imprisonment, besides imposing a fine of Rs 20,000.
During the trial, Sharma denied all the incriminating evidence against him and pleaded innocence.
According to the prosecution, Sharma, as part of his duty as sub-postmaster at Dakshin Puri post office here between 1997 and 2001, used to receive deposits from different holders of savings, recurring and time-deposit accounts.
Instead of crediting the amount collected into the government account, Sharma pocketed it for his own personal use and misappropriated a sum to the tune of Rs 3.59 lakh, police said.