Karnataka HC quashes case against IPS officer in multi-crore IMA scam

PTI, Aug 2, 2023, 1:56 PM IST

The High Court of Karnataka has quashed a case registered against senior IPS officer Ajay Hilori in connection with the I-Monetary Advisory (IMA) scam.

Hilori, former Deputy Commissioner of Police, East Bengaluru, was accused of demanding and accepting bribes in the case from IMA.

The CBI on February 1, 2020 filed an FIR in which he was named as accused number two.

In the supplementary charge sheet filed by the CBI before the trial court, he was named as accused number 26. He was charged under Sections 7, 7A, 8, 10, 11 and 12 r/w. Section 13(2) and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In his petition before the High Court challenging the case against him, it was argued that a departmental inquiry against him found him not guilty.

“In the departmental inquiry, after conduct of a full blown inquiry, the Inquiry Officer exonerates the petitioner of the offences of demand and acceptance of any bribe concerning IMA deposits. Therefore, the petitioner is before this Court seeking quashment of the genesis of the issue till the present stage, on the score that he has been completely exonerated in a departmental inquiry,” Justice M Nagaprasanna noted in his judgement.

The HC accepted this argument and said, “The petitioner in the case at hand is issued a warning, which is not even a penalty. Therefore, it borders on exoneration, as the proceedings against him are closed.” The judge also noted that the same investigating officer had conducted the departmental enquiry and the same witnesses were examined.

“If there is nothing that would become ingredients of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act or the offences under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC as is alleged, could not be found against him, even on the evidence of the very same Investigating Officer and those very witnesses and on examination of the very same documents, which are now to be pitted against the petitioner in a criminal trial, in the considered view of this Court, the conviction of the petitioner is absolutely bleak,” the court said.

Considering that his chances of conviction in the case are bleak, it said he need not undergo the trial.

“The bleakness of such conviction must lead to the closure of the proceedings against the petitioner, as the petitioner cannot be made to undergo the rigmarole of trial and the sword of pendency of a criminal case hanging on his head, notwithstanding the fact that he would not be convicted for the offences so alleged against him in the criminal trial,” Justice Nagaprasanna said.

The departmental inquiry had found that Hilori was “only negligent and that negligence is only in forwarding the report without looking into the report. All other allegations including demand and acceptance of bribe are all held in favour of the petitioner as the Investigating Officer himself refused to support the allegations against the petitioner,” he pointed out.

The high court while quashing the case against Hilori made it clear that its judgment was only with regard to the IPS officer and not the other accused.

“It is made clear that the observations made in the course of the order are only for the purpose of consideration of the case of petitioner under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. and the same shall not bind or influence the proceedings against any other accused pending before the Special Court or any other fora”, it stated.

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