Every officer employed by Cooperative Bank is public servant: High Court

Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ruled that every officer or servant employed by a Cooperative Bank is a public servant in keeping with Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), now Indian penal Code (IPC), as well as Prevention of Corruption Act.

While dismissing a plea by an employee who had served as branch manager Bombay Mercantile Co-operative Bank Limited M A Road that he could not be prosecuted under Prevention of corruption Act for not being a “public servant”, a bench of Rajnesh Oswal said: “It is evident that every officer or servant employed by a Cooperative Bank whether for the whole or part time is a public servant within a meaning of section 21 RPC.

“likewise section 2(2) of the J&K Prevention of Corruption of Act provides that for the purpose of this Act, the expression public servant means a public servant as defined in section 21 of the RPC,” the court added.

According to CBI probe, the petitioner had during his posting as Branch Manager of the Bank from June, 1990 to July, 2001, had “fraudulently opened bank accounts in the names of fictitious persons and allowed unauthorized excessive withdrawals causing enormous loss to the bank to the extent of more than one crore rupees”.

In his petition, the petitioner was seeking quashing of FIR which in 2004 the CBI had registered against him as also the proceedings which are pending before the Special Judge Anti-corruption, Srinagar.  He had  also challenged the trial court order dated 21.06.2007 by virtue of which the court had  framed charges against him for committing offences under RPC as an employee of Bombay Mercantile Co-operative Bank Limited.

His contention was that he was not public servant as such could not have been prosecuted for the commission of offences under Prevention of corruption Act.

He further submitted before the court that CBI could not have investigated and prosecuted him for commission of offence under the PC Act and the agency has no authority to enquire and investigate the matter.

With regard to the contention that the CBI had no authority to enquire and investigate the allegations against the petitioner as there was nothing on record as to who authorized the Agency to enquire and investigate the matter, the court said: “Though the said ground has been taken in the petition but the reasons have nowhere been stated in the petition”.

Pointing out that the FIR was lodged on the basis of written complaint dated 13.01.2004 submitted to Superintendent of Police, CBI by Ashraf Ali Abbas, the then Branch Manager of the Bank, the court said: “the trial court has taken cognizance of the offences mentioned in the challan and has even framed the charges against the petitioner and the other accused.

Now at this stage, the court said, the accused-petitioner cannot raise a plea that the CBI had investigated the matter without any authorization.  The Court further held that there was also “no whisper that any mis-carriage of justice has been occasioned to the petitioner due to such investigation by CBI”.