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Criminal Proceedings Not To Be Initiated Against A Public Servant For Passing A Wrong Order Without Evidence Of Extraneous Considerations: Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court recently ruled that criminal proceedings cannot be initiated against a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act merely for passing a wrong order, without any material to demonstrate that such order was deliberately passed by him for extraneous considerations or on oblique motives. The plea filed by P.Sunil Kumar, the then Tahsildar of Udumbanchola, seeks to quash an FIR filed against him for passing an order unfavourable to the government. The said FIR alleged that the petitioner was actuated by extraneous considerations in passing it. The question that came up in the Court was whether a public servant, who acts as quasi-judicial authority under a statute, can be held criminally liable under the Act for passing a wrong order. Justice R. Narayana Pisharadi while allowing the petition held that dishonest intention on the part of the public servant cannot be presumed to be a reason behind passing a quasi-judicial order in favour of a party. There should be satisfactory material to proceed against the officer. In fact, a bare perusal of Section 13(1)(d)(ii) reveals that a public servant can be prosecuted only if he has abused his position and obtained any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage.

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