Engineer fined Rs 85 lakh, 10-year jail time for taking Rs 1.5 lakh bribe

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A sessions court on Friday took the unprecedented step of imposing a steep fine of Rs 85 lakh and a jail term of 10 years on a Public Works Department (PWD) section engineer for taking a bribe for Rs 1.5 lakh. In case of non-compliance with payment of the fine, another four years would be added to his jail term. It is the highest fine till now imposed by a special court under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA). “Under PCA, the maximum and minimum imprisonment have been prescribed, but there is no ceiling on fine; it is left to the judge’s discretion”, a senior IPS officer told TOI.

The PWD official Ashok Keshavrao Munde, attached to the Shrirampur Panchayat Samiti was caught accepting a bribe of Rs 1.5 lakh from a contractor on May 4, 2016, ACB deputy superintendent Vishnu Tamhane was quoted as saying in the report

Keshavrao Munde had allegedly demanded 5% of a bill amount to release a cheque. It had been agreed that the complainant would hand over the bribe to Munde at the Ahmadnagar Zilla Parishad guest house. Munde reached the location and was caught red-handed.

Charges against Munde were upheld and the offenses under the Prevention of Corruption Act were registered. The investigating officer, the then deputy superintendent Irfan Shaikh, completed the probe into the bribery in record time and submitted the charge sheet on September 2, 2016.

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In a verdict on Friday, Ahmadnagar sessions judge S U Baghele sentenced Munde to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment and handed a fine of Rs 50 lakh for offenses under section 13 of PCA (criminal misconduct by public servant and abuse of official position).

Further, the sessions judge imposed seven years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 35 lakh under section 7 (public servant accepting bribe). The prison terms would run concurrently.

The merit of the case lies in the fact that the ACB sleuths had submitted the charge sheet in less than four months from the date of offense and the court, too, disposed of the case on priority