Pune ACB Challenges Activist’s Contempt Petition in Cognizant Bribery Matter

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Pune, 8th May 2024: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) sought the dismissal of activist Prit Pal Singh’s contempt plea on Tuesday, arguing that he failed to provide evidence regarding IT firm Cognizant’s alleged bribery to secure environmental clearance for its Hinjawadi campus through a contractor.

The ACB’s investigation officer submitted a written response to a city sessions court, stating that the state director general of police (ACB) instructed the Pune unit to challenge the court’s order in the Bombay High Court. This decision was made because Singh allegedly did not comply with the directives outlined in the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and the Code of Criminal Procedure Code.

On April 19, the court directed the ACB to investigate Singh’s bribery complaint under Section 156 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code. Subsequently, Singh filed a contempt application, contending that the ACB had failed to register an FIR despite the court’s directive. The court is set to hear the contempt application on May 8, as per Singh’s lawyers Rohan Nahar and Pratik Rajopadhye.

Citing the Maharashtra State Anti-Corruption and Prohibition Intelligence Bureau and Manual of Instructions from 1968, the ACB highlighted Singh’s alleged failure to provide evidence of bribery before panch witnesses. The bureau emphasized that investigations cannot proceed without such evidence, and merely relying on complaint applications and witness statements under Section 7 of the PC Act is insufficient.

Additionally, the ACB pointed out that Singh’s complaint lacked specifics regarding the timing and location of the alleged bribery. Moreover, he was not directly affected as neither was he solicited for a bribe nor did he pay one, the bureau noted.

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Addressing procedural aspects, the ACB clarified that an FIR cannot be registered without obtaining sanction from the competent authority. Therefore, the investigation officer urged the court to dismiss Singh’s contempt plea, arguing that no offence under the Contempt of Court Act had been committed.