Verdict holding wife of corrupt husband guilty welcomed

April 9th, 2008 - 6:59 pm ICT by admin  


Mumbai, April 9 (IANS) A judgement of the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court holding the wife of a corrupt government officer equally guilty has been widely welcomed. Noted criminal lawyer Majeed Memon said the judgement would help tighten the grip of law over corrupt public servants. “I expect the Prevention of Corruption Act against public servants to be more result-oriented after this ruling”.

He elaborated that if a public servant’s wife or a woman living with him shares his assets and secrets, she is expected to know that illegal money is being brought home. “If she is taken into confidence in storing and disposing such illegal money, then she becomes the abettor to the crime,” Memon told IANS.

However, he cautioned that this yardstick could not be made applicable in all cases. “There are possibilities when a corrupt public servant husband may consciously and carefully conceal such ill-gotten incomes from his wife and she may be genuinely innocent,” Memon said.

Echoing similar sentiments, eminent lawyer Nitin Pradhan welcomed the move for “a corruption free society” as an interesting proposition but felt that this would depend on the merits of individual cases.

“A wife or woman is entitled to have individual or independent income. If she has a lot of disposable income, she may not be an accomplice to her husband in his corrupt dealings,” Pradhan observed.

Former Mumbai public prosecutor Rohini Salian welcomed the move but felt this could be made applicable “only if there is sufficient evidence found against the wife as an abettor in her husband’s corrupt dealings.

“It will depend on the nature of the case and whether the wife is involved or not, whether directly or indirectly. It cannot be made blindly applicable,” she said.

Recently, Justice V.R. Kingaonkar of the Aurangabad Bench of Bombay High Court ruled that the wife of a civil servant holding assets disproportionate to his income was guilty of abetment.

Upholding a lower court verdict, Justice Kingaonkar found Mangalabai Wagh guilty of allowing her husband Bhaskar Wagh, an official working with the state irrigation department, to acquire several properties in her name using corrupt means between 1984 and 1989.

The Dhule court also upheld the lower court judgement sentencing Mangalabai Wagh to three years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.200,000.

Justice Kingaonkar also dismissed Wagh’s appeal against the Dhule court which awarded him seven years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.300,000 in the same case.

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