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MSEDCL engineer, contractor acquitted in bribery case


Thane: A court here has acquitted a junior engineer and a private electrical contractor of a Maharashtra power distribution company in an alleged bribery case on the ground that the prosecution failed to prove the charges against them.

A local hotelier, Bhavani Shankar Mehta, had complained to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in 2007 against Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) junior engineer Vijay Vitthal Bhanushali and contractor Kashinath Sidram Mahendrakar that they had allegedly sought a bribe of Rs 15,000 to restore his power supply.

The hotelier’s premises had earlier been raided by MSEDCL officials for alleged misuse of electricity, and the meters taken away and a penalty was levied.

The prosecution had alleged that when Mehta approached Bhanushali, the latter asked him to pay the requisite charges of Rs 27,500 and also pay him Rs 15,000 for having favoured him in getting the meter and connection.

Mehta then approached the ACB which laid a trap on June 25, 2007, but the engineer was not available in his office. A trap was again laid the next day and, according to the prosecution, the engineer allegedly accepted the agreed sum of Rs 12,000 through the electrical contractor who was present in Bhanushali’s office.

The duo were subsequently arrested and tried under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The counsel for the accused, Vijay Sali, cited several rulings of the Supreme Court and high courts and submitted that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove its point on all counts and hence, his clients deserved to be set free.

Thane Special Judge M M Walimohammed observed that the apex court had in this context made various observations regarding permissibility of evidence under section 65(B) of Indian Evidence Act. The evidence in this context is not produced, he noted.

In his order, the judge further observed, “Having considered all factual and legal aspects of the matter in the present case, the demand of bribe or pecuniary advantage other than legal remuneration is not found substantiated.

“There is no believable evidence that accused no. 2  (contractor) either conspired, instigated, or directly or indirectly abetted with public servant i.e. accused no. 1 to accept gratification through him for favouring or disfavouring and doing an act which was not warranted in discharge of his official duty,” the judge noted while acquitting the duo of all the charges levelled against them.

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