March 12, 2018 2:37:38 am
A special court sentenced an official from the Films Division of India to one year imprisonment after finding him guilty of demanding and accepting a bribe. Shankar Patnaik (67), who was serving as a cameraman in the cartoon film unit of the Films Division in Mumbai, was convicted under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Co-accused K K Devakaran, a senior accounts officer, was acquitted after files containing voice recordings of alleged conversations between him and Patnaik could not be opened in court.
According to the prosecution, Patnaik and Devakaran were working at the Films Division in Mumbai when it organised the Mumbai International Film Festival in February 2010. For the event, they required the services of a decorator. A local purchase committee was formed, of which Patnaik was a member, and the contract was given to Shubham Decorators. The complainant, from Shubham Decorators, alleged that the duo had sought a bribe of Rs 70,000 from him for the contract. He then approached the CBI’s anti-corruption bureau.
On March 26, 2010, Patnaik was caught accepting the bribe at Andheri railway station. After his arrest, Patnaik was also made to call Devakaran to inform him that the bribe was received. The conversation, however, could not be played before the court due to a technical issue with the Micro SD card in which it was saved.
The court examined 14 witnesses, including the two sanctioning authorities – the director general of the Film Division and the additional comptroller general of amounts at the ministry of finance – who gave the sanction to prosecute the duo.
The court observed that while there was evidence that Patnaik had received the bribe as the numbers on the currency notes received tallied with the complainant’s. It, however, concluded that there was no evidence against Devakaran. The court acquitted both the men of criminal conspiracy charges. As per provisions, the sentence was suspended for Patnaik to appeal in a higher court against his conviction.
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