The Orissa High Court quashed the quashes FIR against the Trustee for conspiring with the Accountant to bribe GST officials for the audit process.
Facts of the case:-
The Petitioner, Mukti Kanta Mishra is a founder trustee of Centurion School of Rural Enterprise Management Trust since its inception. He is an accomplished academician who is associated with four Australian Universities as an Adjunct Professor and his current legal status is that of an Australian citizen. The day-to-day affairs of Centurion Institute of Technology are managed by a Management Committee constituted by the Trust under its “First Statute of the Centurion University of Technology and Management, Orissa” dated 19th October 2011. The said statute delineates the function of various persons holding different positions in the University.
Interpretation of law:-
Counsel for the Petitioner, Mr.Aditya Kumar Mohapatra has contended that the present Petitioner is not a member of the Management Committee, and as such, he exercises no active or direct control over the day-to-day affairs or management of the Institute. It is submitted that it is for the said reason a CFO and a CEO were appointed by the University in the Management Committee, who looked after the financial and administrative work pertaining to the University and its allied organizations.
Mr. Mohapatra, further, proffered that the impugned allegations in the FIR have been made for offenses punishable under Section 120-B IPC and Sections 7A, 8, and 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The choice of offenses mentioned in the FIR itself is a testimony of non-application of mind and reveals the pressure under which authorities have desperately attempted to make out a case against the Petitioner when there exists none. Though the intrinsic involvement of the CFO is clearly framed in the F.I.R., interestingly neither he is named as accused or cited as a witness for the best reasons known to C.B.I. However, the F.I.R. has been registered under Sections 7-A, 8, and 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988along with Section 120-B of I.P.C. A bare reading of the F.I.R. itself does not make out a prima facie case against the petitioner.
On the other hand, Mr. Sarthak Nayak learned Counsel for the Opposite Party submitted that accused-Ashutosh Padhy is a close associate of the Petitioner-Trustee was very much present at the spot wherefrom the cash of Rs.10 lakh kept in the bag has been seized, and his very presence with the other accused persons.
The single-judge bench of Justice S.K. Panigrahi noted that the CEO being the nerve center in the management of the University was best suited to recognize whether the Accountant was an employee of the University or not. That being the case, it seems that the Accountant is a stranger to the University and the fact that an allegation has been made that the present petitioner trustee had conspired with this unknown stranger to the University to bribe GST officials for the ongoing audit process seems inherently improbable and absurd.