New Delhi: Officials engaged in corrupt practices prior to repeal of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947 can be prosecuted under the repealed Act, even if the FIR was registered, subsequent to the repeal of the enactment, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai said repeal of the 1947 Act does not in any manner preclude the investigating agencies to probe offences committed prior to repeal of the Act.
"No different intention is disclosed in the provisions of the new Act to hold that repeal of the Act of 1947 affects the right of the investigating agency to investigate offences which are covered by the Act of 1947 or that it prevents the investigating agency from proceeding with the investigation and prosecuting the accused for offences under the Act of 1947.
"In our opinion, therefore, the repeal of the Act of 1947 does not vitiate or invalidate the criminal case instituted against the appellants and the consequent conviction of the appellants for offences under the provisions of the Act of 1947," Justice Ranjana Desai, writing the judgement, said.
The apex court passed the ruling while dismissing the appeals of M C Gupta, then Assistant Divisional Manager, New India Assurance Company Limited, and his relative Mohan Lal Gupta, challenging their conviction under the PCA 1947 on the ground that the FIR in the case was registered only on February 19, 1990, for the offences committed between July 9-14, 1988.
The 1947 PC Act was repealed by enactment of the 1988 Act which came into force from September 9, 1988.
The offences related to misappropriation of the insurance company`s Rs.1,00,200 to favour Mohan Lal Gupta who was running a mill at Orai in Jalaun district, UP.
The Special CBI judge convicted and sentenced MC Gupta to two years rigorous imprisonment while Mohan Lal Gupta was punished with one year RI. The Allahabad High Court upheld the conviction and the sentence, after which came the appeal
The apex court said the offence is alleged to have been
committed prior to the coming into force of the New Act and hence there was nothing wrong in their being charged under the repealed Act.
"The appellants were, therefore, rightly charged, tried and convicted under the provisions of the Act of 1947.
"We may also note that the provisions of the New Act are more stringent than the provisions of the Act of 1947. The appellants cannot, therefore, be said to have been prejudiced," the bench said.
However, since MC Gupta is now 70 years old and stated to be suffering from various ailments and the crime having occurred 24 years ago, the apex court reduced his sentence to one year but sustained the sentence on Mohan Lal Gupta.