A woman Income tax officer has been sentenced to four years of rigorous imprisonment for demanding Rs. 1.3 lakh from the partner of an equipment firm to reduce the firm’s tax liability. The court said in its judgment that the abuse of official position to grab money as gratification is alarming.
As per the complaint, the official Preetha Babukuttan had initially demanded ₹1.3 lakhs from the CA firm of the complainant Ravindra Mhatre, partner of the firm. The firm had filed its income tax returns for the assessment year 2009-2010 and had come under scrutiny of the department. Mhatre had received a notice from the IT official. As per the notice, he was supposed to meet her in her office.
Accused demanded a bribe of ₹1 lakh
In March, 2015 when he went to meet her in her office at Bandra Kurla Complex, she told him that his firm’s tax liability would be around ₹4 to ₹5 lakhs and that she could reduce it to ₹55,000 if he paid her ₹1 lakh as bribe. Mhatre then approached the anti-corruption branch with a written complaint. Finally, she was caught with ₹75,000 that she had agreed to after a negotiation.
Advocate: Complainant had thrust money into the officer's hands
Babukuttan had taken the defence that Mhatre had thrust money into her hands and further kept it in her drawer when she went to complain against him with her superior. The court was not satisfied with it. Prosecutor PKB Gaikwad said the prosecution examined 15 witnesses during the trial. Seeking a minimum sentence after the court found her guilty, her advocate told the court that she has been suspended since 2015, has faced trial for seven years, has children of marriageable age and her parent is suffering from cancer.
Judge: Deep pervasive impact on the functioning of entire country
Special CBI Judge MR Purwar said in the 126-page judgment that though the accused does not have criminal antecedents, the nature of the offence is serious. “The dishonest intention and abuse of official position by public servant is alarming. Corruption by public servant has become a gigantic problem,” Judge Purwar said, adding that it has a deep and pervasive impact on the functioning of the entire country. It then imposed a minimum sentence considering her age and dependents.
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