High Court refuses to stay govt official’s conviction in bribe case

New Delhi:- The Bombay High Court has refused to stay the conviction of a government servant for accepting bribes and held that granting relief to the officer would adversely affect the public’s perception of the integrity of government institutions.

In an order passed earlier this month, a single bench presided over by Justice AM Badar rejected the plea filed by Sangeeta Pillay, an official of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation, Pune, seeking that her conviction be stayed and her sentence be suspended till her appeal against it was decided by the HC.

Pillay was arrested while accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 from a complainant for registering some documents during a trap laid by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last year.

A special CBI court convicted her in December last year under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Pillay, however, filed an appeal in HC in January this year arguing that sanction for her prosecution had been issued by the state without application of mind.

The bench held that while the validity of the sanction would be decided during the final hearing of her appeal, she could not be granted any interim relief in the form of a stay or suspension of her conviction and sentence.

“Cases like the above are of offences involving moral turpitude. If a convict has been sentenced for crimes that are so outrageous, then staying her conviction would have a serious impact on the public perception of the integrity of public institutions,” the bench said.

“Such an order (of granting relief by staying the conviction) will definitely shake the publics confidence in the judiciary,” Justice Badar said.

“This is why the Apex Court has cautioned time and again that all courts must be wary in staying convictions, especially when it comes to cases such as the one referred to above. And such stay must be granted only under exceptional circumstances,” he said.

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