A widow on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking to set aside proceedings against her in a disproportionate assets case citing that her husband, the main accused in the case, had died and that she can not defend herself in his absence.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the Odisha goverment to explain whether the trial can continue independently against a housewife notwithstanding the fact that her husband, who was accused of acquiring
disproportionate assets, died and the case against him has abated.
The court was hearing a petition filed by a widow Arati Sahoo challenging the Odisha High Court order dismissing her plea seeking to drop disproportionate assets case against her.
The woman said the case cannot be continued against her, in view of the death of her husband.
Arati Sahoo is facing trial in a Cuttack court under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109 (abetment) of the IPC.
She has been named as co-accused in the case in which her husband, who was a public servant, was chargesheeted for criminal misconduct for possessing disproportionate assets.
Sahoo said that most of the properties stood in her name, but she is not a public servant and she is not an income tax assessee.
Sahoo told the court that her husband, who was a public servant, died on June 12, 2017.
The proceedings against her husband were abated on August 28, 2017.
Citing her husband’s death, the petitioner said the case against her is not maintainable and that the trial against her will be a futile exercise.
Sahoo’s advocate Shibashish Misra said that the Odisha High Court has failed to appreciate that the charges levelled against the widow can be established only when the husband, who is the principal accused, fails to account for the disproportionate assets.
An offence can be made out only when the offence is established in the court, the petitioner said.
“The Odisha High Court while coming to the aforesaid finding failed to appreciate that whether a charge under Section 13(1)(e) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 can be fastened against the petitioner, especially when the petitioner is a housewife and is facing such charges on account of her husband who is the principal accused in the case,” the plea said.
Sahoo told the top court that the High Court ignored the submission of the petitioner that she could not have been charged under any provision of Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 inasmuch as the provision is confined only to public servants.
The petitioner is a housewife and has been roped in under Section 13(1)(e) of the Act of 1988 as an abettor.