New Delhi: Corruption by a public servant is an offence against the State and the society and courts cannot deal with such cases like “suits for specific performance”, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.
A bench of Justices S ANazeer and V Ramasubramanian made the observation while setting aside an order of the Madras high court which quashed a criminal complaint in a cash -for- job scam on the basis of settlement between the parties.
“It is needless to point out that corruption by a public servant is an offence against the State and the society at large. The Court cannot deal with cases involving abuse of official position and adoption of corrupt practices, like suits for specific performance, where the refund of the money paid may also satisfy the agreement holder.
“Therefore we hold that the High Court was completely in error in quashing the criminal complaint,” the bench said.
The complainant in the case had filed an affidavit in the high court supporting the accused and praying for quashing of the case on the ground that what the victims had with the accused was only a money dispute and that the same had been settled out of court.
He contended that due to political rivalry between the two groups, his complaint got converted into a more serious issue.
The victims, who originally claimed to have paid money for procuring employment, also filed individual affidavits supporting the accused.
When the petition for quashing came up for hearing, the counsel appearing for the state government made a submission that the incident took place in the year 2014 and that a compromise was reached between the accused and the victims the same year.
The high court took note of the submissions and quashed the criminal complaint.
The top court said courts should be slow to exercise their jurisdiction to quash criminal proceedings on the basis of settlement reached between the parties when the offences are capable of having an impact not merely on the complainant and the accused but also on others.
The apex court said it cannot shy away from the fact that candidates, who are selected and appointed to posts in the Government/public corporations by adopting corrupt practices, are eventually called upon to render public service.
“It is needless to say that the quality of public service rendered by such persons will be inversely proportionate to the corrupt practices adopted by them.
“Therefore, the public, who are recipients of these services, also become victims, though indirectly, because the consequences of such appointments get reflected sooner or later in the work performed by the appointees. Hence, to say that the appellants have no locus standi is to deny the existence of what is obvious,” the bench said while restoring the criminal complaint.