5 December 2022

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Officers of private bank punishable under POCA

Central Bureau of Investigation, Bank Securities & Fraud Cell v. Ramesh Gelli and Others


Officers of a private bank, specifically its Chairman, Directors and other Officers are ‘public servants’ who can be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the Supreme Court held. In a case that harkened to Bollywood movies of the 1970s, “where are my Diamonds?”, the instant case, though unlikely to have involved the blackest of stones, was predicated upon clandestine transfer of funds by ‘banking’ proprietors for wrongful gain by cheating.

Justice Pant took a direct view of the matter, equating ‘public servants’ under Section 2 of POCA and Section 46A of the Banking Regulations Act, 1949 as one and the same. Such was his opinion that though bank officials were not public servants under the Section 21 of the IPC, the same did not preclude them from prosecution under POCA by virtue of Section 46A of the Act of 1949.

Justice Gogoi cautioned against too wide an interpretation of the “public duty” under POCA, to the extent the same could encompass any duty attached to any office as having a bearing on public interest. Instead, his divergent reasoning, yet similar conclusion, looked to the relevant office and duties performed having a public character.


Section 2 Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

Section 46A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949

Tags : Prevention of corruption bankers public duty

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