Mumbai: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court sentenced a former senior official and inspector of the city’s Income-Tax Department on Tuesday to three-years of rigorous imprisonment under the Prevention of Corruption Act for demanding Rs35 lakh from a businessman as bribe to avoid searches at his office and residence on the basis of an advocate’s complaint.
The special court also imposed a fine of Rs20,000 each on them. Special Judge SP Naik – Nimbalkar said in the order that the nature of offence is grave and serious. “The dishonest intention and abuse of official position to grab money as gratification is alarming. It needs to be checked,” the order read.
The offence dates to Jan 19, 2009. Mr Rajkumar Bhatia was working as Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax and Mr Suresh Khetan was Inspector in the department. A Thane resident, partner in a private firm lodged a complaint and stated that in Dec 2008, Mr Khetan had visited his partner’s residence and asked him to meet Mr Bhatia within a day, stating that there was a serious complaint against them.
Mr Bhatia demanded Rs2 lakh from the partner, which he handed over due to fear. In a few days, the IT inspector called his partner and asked him to bring documents to dispose of the complaint and when he went to the department with the documents, Mr Bhatia asked him for Rs35 lakh to close the complaint. The CBI was then approached. Mr Bhatia had subsequently reduced the bribe amount to Rs12.5 lakh and asked to give it to Mr Khetan. A trap was laid and Mr Khetan was caught accepting the bribe amount of Rs2 lakh.
The court said the amount of Rs2 lakh was recovered from Mr Khetan and no possible explanation was given for accepting it. There is evidence in clear terms, suggestive of the fact, it said, that the accused persons have abused their position as public servants and obtained pecuniary advantage for themselves.