Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Allahabad High Court denies anticipatory bail to government doctor in corruption charges

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The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court, while dismissing anticipatory bail to a government doctor, observed that corruption is like a termite in every system and once it has entered the system, it has gone on increasing.

A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Krishan Pahal passed this order, while hearing a Criminal Miscellaneous Anticipatory Bail Application 438 CRPC filed by Dr Rajeev Gupta MD.

The anticipatory bail application has been filed on behalf of the applicant in Criminal Case under Sections 13(2) r/w 13(1)(e) of PC Act, 1988 and Section 109 IPC, Police Station CBI/ACB, District Lucknow, with a prayer to enlarge him on anticipatory bail.

The case has been registered on the basis of a written complaint by Anmol Sachan, PI/CBI/ACB/Lucknow, dated 23/05/2019 against Dr Sunita Gupta, the then Sr D.M.O, Northern Railway (N.R.), Divisional Hospital, Charbagh, Lucknow and her husband Dr Rajeev Gupta, Professor, KGMU, Lucknow, U/s 109 IPC & Section 13(2) r/w 13(1)(e) of PC Act, 1988.

It is alleged in the complaint that Dr Sunita Gupta, the then Sr D.M.O, Northern Railways, Divisional Hospital, Charbagh, Lucknow was in possession of disproportionate assets to her known sources of income to the tune of Rs 1,80,96,585.33 during the period 01/01/2009 to 12/07/2016, which she can not satisfactorily account for.

Dr Rajeev Gupta, husband of Dr Sunita Gupta also abetted the possession of assets disproportionate to known sources of income by Dr. Sunita Gupta.

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The investigation revealed that Dr Sunita Gupta was posted as Sr D.M.O, N.R, Division Hospital, Lucknow up to October, 2015. She was transferred to Modern Coach Factory, Rae Bareli in the same capacity wherein she joined on 16/11/2015 in compliance of Order dated 05/11/2015, DRM, Lucknow. Since then she has been serving in MCF, Rae Bareli and staying in the Guest House of MCF, Rae Bareli. Occasionally, she comes to Lucknow. Dr Sunita Gupta retained Government Accommodation allotted to her at Lucknow, with due permission from competent authority. While Dr Sunita Gupta resided in Rae Bareli, her husband Dr Rajeev Gupta resided in her official residence at Church Road, Railway Colony Lucknow.

During investigation of RC/006/2016/A/002, by Anmol Sachan, searches were conducted by Sh Sandeep Pandey. PI/CBI/ACB/Lko in presence of the CBI Team & independent witnesses at official residential premises of Dr Sunita Gupta at Church Road, Railway Colony, near Fatehli Chauraha, Charbagh, Lucknow on 12/07/2016. At the time of searches. Dr Sunita Gupta was posted at Rae Bareli. Her husband Dr Rajeev Gupta was present in the official residence of Dr Sunita Gupta at Lucknow.

During the course of house search, a Search List was prepared vide which total six items including documents and cash was seized. Two Steel Almirah were kept in the Drawing Room which were opened with the keys provided by Dr Rajeev Gupta. The Almirah contained huge currency notes. Total Rs 1,59,00,000/ were found in the Almirah. An Inquiry was made from Dr Rajeev Gupta about the source of money. He took the plea that the said cash has been earned by him through private practice. The plea taken by Dr Rajeev Gupta was not found satisfactory. Hence, the said amount was seized. In addition to Rs 1,59,00,000/-, an amount of Rs 70,700/- was also found in the Steel Almirah, which was left for their day to day expenditure.

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During searches various documents pertaining to investments by Dr Sunita Gupta and Dr Rajeev Gupta were found and seized Search List, dated 12/07/2016 by Sandeep Pandey, the then PI/CBI/ACB/Lko i.e “List of Insurance Policies & FDs, “List of NSC/KVP”, “List of SB A/c detail and PPF A/c, Currency Notes Rs 1.59,00,000/ seized vide “Details of Currency Notes”.

Counsel for the applicant stated that the applicant has been falsely implicated in the matter. The money recovered from his possession is his genuine and hard earned money.

Counsel for the applicant has further placed reliance on the statement of various doctors which have been examined by the Investigating Officer during investigation, who have categorically stated that the applicant used to treat various cancer patients in private and the money is a result of the said private practice.

Counsel for the applicant has further stated that the applicant is the Head of Department (Radio Therapy) in K.G.M.U, Lucknow. In case, the applicant is released on anticipatory bail, he will not misuse the liberty of bail and the applicant is ready to cooperate in trial.

Per contra, Dharmendra Pratap Singh, Advocate holding brief of Anurag Kumar Singh, counsel for the C.B.I has vehemently opposed the anticipatory bail application on the ground that the accused has not appeared in court on summons. The application has been filed after the bailable warrants have been issued against the applicant. The sanction for prosecution has already been received and the charge-sheet has been filed in court.

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Counsel for the CBI has further stated that the applicant is a radiotherapist and in the said field of radiotherapy, no private practice is ever seen. The said field is a specialized field and is undertaken in large Institutions and the set up required for practicing in radiotherapy goes to the tune of multi crores.

Counsel for the CBI has referred the case of P.S Kirupanandhan Vs State, Cri. A. No 381 of 2017 and Cri MP No 8256 of 2017 in which the Madras High Court has rejected the submissions made by the accused/applicant and decided that in DA cases, the explanation offered by the accused must be supported with valid documentary evidence. Hence, the explanation/argument of the accused/other person cited in defence is not tenable/valid and lawful. The arguments tendered on behalf of the applicant are not based on concrete facts but are vague and general. The case is not fit for the anticipatory bail.

The Court stated that the medical practitioner administers an oath at the time of convocation as provided by Indian Medical Association which is an extension of Hippocratic oath taken the world over. The oath is not merely a formality. It has to be observed and followed in letter and spirit. It is on these lines that the apex medical education regulator, National Medical Commission has suggested that the Hippocratic oath be replaced by ‘CHARAK SHAPATH’ during the convocation ceremony for graduates in medical services. The medical and legal fields are more a service than a profession, especially the stream of oncology which deals with life and death.

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“Corruption is a termite in every system. Once it enters the system, it goes on increasing. Today, it is rampant and has become a routine. Corruption is the root cause of all the problems, such as poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, pollution, external threats, underdevelopment, inequality, social unrest. The menace has to be put to account. The offence is against the society. The Court has to balance the fundamental rights of the accused to the legitimate concerns of the society at large vis-avis the investigating agency.

The task of the Court is manifold. Firstly, it has to ensure that there is no unwarranted misuse or abuse of process to encroach upon life and liberty of the applicant as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution. Secondly, it has to be seen that the Rule of law is followed and the administration of justice is not hampered, the guilty is brought to book’, the Court said while dismissing  the anticipatory bail application.

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