In perhaps the first conviction in a case of illegal money transaction during demonetisation, a Delhi court Friday awarded 4-year jail term to three PNB officials, saying their actions "left a slur on the institution" in which they had grown.
Special Judge Raj Kumar Chauhan convicted former senior officials -- Rama Nand Gupta, Bhuvnesh Kumar Julka and Jeetander Veer Arora -- for falsely showing deposited legal tender notes of Rs 10.51 lakh as demonetised currency and exchanging it "unauthorisedly and illegally".
"The convicts being the bank officers were expected to be on higher pedestal of honesty and integrity. The act of convicts has left a slur on institution in which they have grown into their services as they are senior officers of the bank... This seems to be a classical case of misuse of power by the bank officials after demonetisation," the court said.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 4 lakh each on the convicts.
The court convicted them under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) read with section 409 (criminal breach of trust), 471 (using as genuine a forged documents), 477A (falsification of accounts) of the Indian Penal Code and section 13 (2) read with section 13 (1) (d) (criminal misconduct by a public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, 1988. The offences entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
According to the prosecution, a complaint was filed on April 5, 2017, by the deputy circle head of one of the branches of Punjab National Bank.
It claimed that during the demonetisation period (November 10, 2016, to December 30, 2016), some false records had been created at two occasions in the computer/ Core Bank Solution (CBS) of the Civil Lines Branch of the bank contrary to the original physical vouchers filled by the depositors.
It said the customers had deposited cash in legal tender notes as per the denomination mentioned in cash deposit vouchers but it was posted in the computer as banned currency notes (Rs 1000 and Rs 500).
The unauthorised exchange of Rs 10,51,000 Specified Bank Notes with legal tenders was done by the three officials, said the complaint.
CBI registered an FIR on April 6, 2017.
CBI's charge sheet referred to a bank's circular which stated that a head cashier can post in the CBS system cash amount of Rs 50,000 and that too jointly with an authorised cashier.
The charge sheet claimed that Gupta (then senior manager) had authorised to initiate the enhancement power of Arora (then head cashier) for posting the cash amount of Rs 9 lakh and Rs 1.51 lakh in the system without issuing any office order and no entries were made in the PNB arrangement register.
This indicated that the enhancement power of Arora was initiated by Julka (then deputy manager) who was further authorised by Gupta without any written instructions of the competent authority with a motive to allow the posting of the amount without coming to the notice of others, the CBI had said.
The court said in its Friday's order that the accused have thus "enriched themselves at the cost of public funds".