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Only a “fair and efficient probe through field investigation” can curb corruption, a court here has said while acquitting two accused in a graft case for want of evidence.

“However, the single most important factor directly affecting the efficacy of the Prevention of Corruption Act in fulfilling the objective of curbing corruption is the need of a fair, honest, efficient and thorough field investigation,” Special Judge Alok Agarwal said in a recent judgment that has only now been made available.

“Field investigation lays the foundation on which the edifice of trial is to be erected,” he said.

He further said that a missing link or a fragile one, left in the foundation, especially, if detected late, is usually “not re-inforceable”.
“The resulting crash is all the more agonising because time and resources spent in the meanwhile cannot be retrieved,” Agarwal said.

The court’s ruling came last week while acquitting P. Dasgupta, then the deputy drug controller general of India, and J.K. Singh, chairman, 21st Century Finance Ltd, who also owns Mesco Laboratories Ltd., a pharmaceutical company.

According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), J.K. Singh and Dasgupta had direct official dealings. It further said that Dasgupta had approved the issuance of a licence to Mesco Laboratories to import raw material from West Germany during 1991-92 and from Vietnam during 1992-93.

The CBI said that during investigations it was found that Dasgupta obtained farm land in Gurgaon in the name of his dependent daughter from Ansal Properties and Industries Ltd. on payment of Rs.9.90 lakh which was made by 21st Century Finance.

The court framed charges in November 2007 against Dasgupta for criminal misconduct and J.K. Singh under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Both accused had pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution named 15 witnesses to support its case.

The court observed that no incriminating evidence was found against the accused during the examination of the witnesses.

It noted that Dasgupta was a public servant at the time and in that capacity had official dealings with Mesco Laboratories.

“However, there is absolutely no evidence on record to show that he (Dasgupta) had ever met the chairman of that company or even that he knew who the chairman was. He, being a deputy drugs controller at that time, was concerned with the technical requirement for approving import of a drug or its raw material; and the composition of its board of directors could not have been his concern,” the court said.

The court added that prosecution has failed to prove that Dasgupta ever knew J.K. Singh.

“This is because of the missing link of any relation between the two of them whether personal or professional,” the court said.

“This link could have been established only in field investigation, which the investigating officer has failed to do.”

“No overt act has been attributed to accused Dasgupta in demanding or accepting or agreeing to accept any valuable thing from accused Singh or in
fact, from any other person,” the court said.

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