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‘Abatement of case against prime accused doesn’t annihilate abetment of co-accused’

HC declines to quash abetment charge against wife of deceased public servant in DA case

The High Court of Karnataka has said that abatement of criminal case on the death of the main accused does not annihilate the charge of abetment against a co-accused while declining to quash the charge of abetment against the wife of a deceased public servant in a disproportionate assets (DA) case.“… death of the husband during trial before the charges are framed will not result in closure of trial against the co-accused, who is charged only for alleged abetment under Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code,” the court said.Justice M. Nagaprasanna passed the order while rejecting the plea of V.M. Saraswathy, 60, wife of late M. Selvakumar. The CBI had registered a corruption case under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, against her husband for allegedly possessing assets disproportionate to known sources of his income when he was working as the Deputy Director (Research) Training Centre, Central Coffee Research Institute, Coffee Research Station, Balehonnur, Chikkamagaluru district.The allegation against the petitioner-wife was that she had abetted her husband to commit the offence for purchase of many moveable and immovable properties in her name out of the ill-gotten money of her husband. The CBI had filed a chargesheet against them in 2015 and Selvakumar died in March 2017 before the special court for CBI cases could frame the charges against them.While the petitioner had moved the High Court questioning the direction of the special court to invoke charges under the PC Act against her, the CBI had questioned the special court’s order of framing charge against her under the PC Act instead of the charge of abetment under Section 109 of the IPC as alleged in the charge sheet. The CBI had not charged her under the PC Act.The High Court, while setting aside the special court’s order to frame charge against her under the PC Act, has said that trial against her would have to continue for the charge of abetment.“The question that had arisen for consideration is answered in the peculiar facts of this case holding that abatement does not annihilate abetment,” the court said.However, the High Court said that since she cannot be charged under the PC Act as per the law, the special court for corruption case cannot proceed against her, and the further proceedings for abetment would have to be continued before a competent court having jurisdiction.

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