The full bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy and Justice M Sathyanarayanan set aside the petitioner’s contention that he was not a public servant based on an earlier division bench order that had held that because cooperative societies are not directly funded by the State or Centre, the staff would not come within the ambit of the PC Act.
Penning the judgement, Justice M Sathyanarayanan said to meet the purpose of the Act, the definition of public servant should be given an expanded meaning to root out corruption. “Moreover, the definitions of ‘public duty’ and ‘public servant’ are inclusive and not exclusive,” the court said.
The court noted that the petitioner, the secretary of a society, demanded and accepted bribe to return pledged jewels despite the fact that the loan availed by the person was waived by the State government. “The discharge of such duty, therefore, must be seen as public duty within the meaning of the relevant expression.”
The petitioner has to be regarded as a public servant within the meaning of Sections 2 (c) (viii) and 2 (c) (ix) of the PC Act, and his dealing with the loanee must be seen to be in course of the public duty that he was required to discharge in his official capacity as secretary of the cooperative society, the court said.
The court also held that the three conditions required to reckon as a public servant, namely the person’s status in the registered cooperative society, the nature of its business and whether it was in receipt of any funds from either the State or Centre have been satisfied in the present case. The petitioner was secretary of a cooperative society engaged in agriculture, which received financial aid from the government. Based on this, the bench directed the registry to place the case before the roster bench for final disposal.
Vacation courts in four phases to hear urgent matters
With the month-long summer vacation at the Madras High Court commencing on May 1, vacation court for the period has been split into four parts at the principal seat in Chennai and the bench in Madurai.
At both benches, Part-I will prevail from May 1 to May 9 with court sitting on May 5 and 6; Part II from May 10 to May 16 with court sitting on May 12 and May 13; Part-III from May 17 to May 23 with court sitting on May 19 and May 20; and Part-IV from May 24 to May 31 with court sitting on May 26 and May 27.
Court sitting hours will be from 10.30 am to 4.45 pm, and will continue the hybrid mode of hearing of cases that is being followed now, said the notification.
Notice of any application of urgent matters alone should be presented along with the papers to the vacation officers from 10.30 am to 1.30 pm on the filing dates in the principal seat by following the present system of filing of case papers, copy applications, returning/re-presenting the case papers and receiving the order copies by physical mode through the respective counters provided inside the South Gate (Gate No.7), the notification added.
No application should be presented at the residence of vacation judges under any circumstances and no lunch motion will be entertained during the summer vacation. For bail petitions, lower court bail order should be enclosed along with the petitions, it said.