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APSC cash-for-jobs case: HC upholds order changing status of suspended APS officer

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Guwahati, May 8: The Gauhati High Court has dismissed a petition filed by suspended APS (Assam Police Service) officer Sukanya Das to challenge an order passed by the Special Judge, Assam to change her status from a witness to an accused in the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) cash-for-jobs case.

The High Court recently upheld the impugned order passed by the Special Judge, after observing that there was no error or irregularity in the directive.

“There is nothing in the impugned order which shows that the learned Special Judge has taken cognisance of offence, under Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, against the present petitioner for the purpose of trial against her,” the single judge bench of Justice Mridul Kumar Kalita observed.

According to the facts of the case, one Angshumita Gogoi had lodged an FIR at Dibrugarh police station on October 27, 2016, alleging that one Naba Kumar Patir had contacted her over phone asking her to pay Rs 10 lakh for getting appointed to the post of dental surgeon through the selection process conducted by the APSC.

A case was thereafter registered under Sections 7, 13(1)(b), (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, read with Sections 120B and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Das was initially listed as a prosecution witness in the case probing bribery allegations in APSC appointments.

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted by the state government in September last year to probe the case. Thereafter, the petitioner received a notice under Section 41A of CrPC from the SIT, CID to appear before it on December 1, 2023.

When the petitioner appeared before the SIT on December 4, 2023, she was arrested by the SIT on the ground that sufficient evidence was found against her to the effect that she had obtained a job in the Assam government through unlawful means in complicity with the other accused persons in the case.

The petitioner was initially remanded in police custody for five days and thereafter sent to judicial custody on December 8, 2023. However, by the impugned order dated January 17, 2024, she was granted bail with certain conditions.

On January 11, 2024, the investigation officer (IO) filed an application before the Special Judge, Assam, praying for changing the status of the petitioner from a witness to an accused and then to prosecute her in the case.

The Special Judge, by impugned order dated January 17, 2024, allowed the petition filed by the IO to change the status of the present petitioner from that of a witness to an accused.

The petitioner thereafter challenged the said order in the present criminal petition before the High Court.

It was argued that in the case, neither there is a police report against the present petitioner under Section 173 of the CrPC, nor has the Court exercised its powers under Section 319 of the CrPC.

On the other hand, the Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) submitted that only the status of the present petitioner has been changed from that of a witness to that of an accused as sufficient materials are there against her to do so.

It was further submitted that the case against the petitioner was still at the stage of further investigation and the question of taking cognisance of offence against the present petitioner for the purpose of trial has not yet arisen.

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