Archana Deepak Jatkar, Judicial Magistrate First Class of Wadgaon Maval Court, Maharashtra was arrested on charges of corruption. She has been booked under Sections 7 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and was subsequently arrested leading to an FIR against her in Dehu Road Police Station. Her anticipatory bail has been rejected by an order dated March 3.
Allegedly, she agreed to pass an order in favour of Shevkar, first informant in the said case on a bribe of Rs 3 lakhs which was actually accepted by her associate, Shubhavari Gaikwad who presented herself on the false name, Mhatre.
Gaikwad convinced the first informant of how there was a possibility of him being booked under a serious offence along with his brother, and how they will have a hard time arranging for expenses and sureties to get a bail. This was in reference to the criminal case filed against him by Amul Dairy in Wadgaon Maval Court. Thereby, she categorically said that she could manage the judge and get the case dismissed. She even assured him that following this he could even file complaint against Amul Dairy.
Mhatre alias Gaikwad, associate of Jatkar demanded Rs 5 lakhs, however, the amount was settled at Rs 3 lakhs after negotiations. In good faith, Shevkar approached the Anti Corruption Bureau explaining his situation and the said allegations were verified and some phone calls were recorded. Following this, informant met Mhatre and gave her fake currency as provided by the Bureau and she was arrested as soon as she got out of the car leading to lodging of an FIR against her. The applicant, Jatke had previously approached the Court of Sessions as well for anticipatory bail which was similarly rejected by an order dated February 23, 2021.
Advocate Aabad Ponde appeared on behalf of the Applicant and submitted how she was unaware of the actions committed by Gaikwad on her name when she had appointed her merely for a few duties and finding a maid for her 11 months old toddler while Applicant attended to her duties in the court. He further submitted that his client was “blissfully unaware” of the said scenario. She did not ask for any bribe and there was nothing incriminating in her conversations with her Associate in reference to Informant’s case.
These submissions were countered by S.H Yadav, Additional Public Prosecutor who said that the conduct of raid and arrest of Gaikwad on accepting the notes must not be doubted. He then specifically made a reference to a phone call between the Applicant and her Associate dated January 11, 2021. The impugned call showed Jatkar’s deep involvement in the said matter in which the two make direct references to the Informant’s case and the Applicant specifically goes on to assure “everything will be alright and there will be no issues.” She also repeatedly told the Mhatre that informant’s case would not stand once she rejected it and that there could not be any FIR and that there was a possibility that order under Section 202 of Cr.P.C. could be passed. She added that the case could be kept pending for years together. In fact, in that conversation there was specific assurance given by the Applicant that the case would be cleared.
Justice Sarang V. Kotwal observed that Applicant’s involvement in the case could prima facie be ascertained. On account of the various facts on the surface along with recorded phone calls, the anticipatory bail could not be granted to her. Additionally, her custodial interrogation is necessary to know their joint involvement in any other cases.
He further stated how grave these allegations were and how could they shake public trust and faith in the judicial system thereby ordering further investigation in the matter. Lastly, he ordered that the Applicant cannot be denied access to her toddler on humanitarian grounds even though her bail has been refused, considering her Counsel’s plea. Justice Kotwal rejected his extensive plea of staying the matter for 4 weeks. He also ordered arrangement of necessary facilities for the child whenever he is with the Applicant. [READ ORDER]