In a significant case, the apex court set aside the judgement of the Gujarat High Court. It was hearing the appeal in the case of State of Gujrat v. Mansukhbhai Kanjinhai Shah. The High Court had acquitted the trustees of a deemed university from the prosecution of a corruption case. The Supreme Court held that a deemed university will be covered under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 under Section 2(c)(xi).
Allegations on the Deemed University
The trustees of the deemed university, namely, ‘Sumandeep Vidyapeeth‘ sued. They allegedly demanded a bribe. Explicitly, they demanded bribe for permitting a student to appear in the MBBS examination. In effect, a charge sheet filed against them in 2017. Subsequently, the accused moved the discharge application under Section 227 of CrPC. However, the trial court dismissed the application. Being that, they filed a criminal revision petition before the high court. The Court allowed the petition. It stated that trustees of the deemed university are not public servants as per the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. However, the State of Gujrat challenged the verdict of the Court. They approached the Supreme Court.
Observations by Supreme Court
The apex court held that the technical definitions of one statute can not be imported to another statute. Moreover, independent meaning needs to be provided to the term ‘university‘ as occurring under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The court clarified that the definition under sec. 2(c)(xi) is inclusive in nature. It explicitly emphasises on the general definition of ‘Public Servant’. For this reason, the officials of a deemed university perform a function similar to that of public servants. Furthermore, the court referred to the decision in CBI v. Ramesh Gelli (2016). It was held in the case that, by and large, the officers and directors of a private bank categorised as public servants can be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act.