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Two decades after his death, the tax official was acquitted in the case of corruption | India News


MUMBAI: A sales tax officer, dead for nearly two decades, 25 years after his conviction was acquitted in a 1985 refund and corruption conspiracy case. A few days ago, the Bombay High Court allowed his appeal against the sentence. His widow and son had put themselves in his place in 2015 to continue the appeal filed in 1996, against the conviction, a sentence of 18 months in prison and a fine of Rs 26,000.
In September 1996, a trial court in Solapur convicted Suresh Kagne and two other sales tax officials, relying largely on the testimony of an approver, the son of another co-defendant, an oil mill owner. He had been granted clemency at the end of the trial after 92 of the 94 prosecution witnesses were questioned, “obviously to fill in the gaps in the case,” the HC said in its January 19 ruling.
Kagne was tried with two other public officials and a registered ‘merchant’ from an oil extraction company and his son. The charges included conspiracy to make and obtain a false claim for a sales tax refund, admissible for those in the business of extracting oil from oilseeds and ‘tel ghanis’ (mini oil mills).
A co-defendant had granted the search to the son of the trafficker. Kagne had allegedly “without following due process accepted compensation claims” of Rs 2.6 lakh, thus causing a loss to the state treasury. The HC did not find the approver’s testimony reliable. In early 2013, the HC had acquitted two of Kagne’s co-defendants, also sales tax officials, while allowing their separate appeals against his conviction.

Times of India