Man jailed for taking 50 cents 24 years ago

PATNA, India Wed Feb 4, 2009 10:22am EST

Inmates are padlocked in this October 21, 2003 file photo. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/Files

Inmates are padlocked in this October 21, 2003 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton/Files

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PATNA, India (Reuters) - An Indian court sentenced a 75-year-old doctor to jail for accepting half a dollar as a bribe nearly a quarter of a century ago, officials said Wednesday.

India's federal police caught Balgovind Prasad accepting 25 rupees (51 cents) from a sweeper in 1985 for issuing a fake medical certificate, police said.

The case dragged on for years and Prasad was convicted in 1992 and given a one-year jail term. He was freed as he appealed the sentence.

Tuesday, a higher court in India's eastern state of Bihar state reduced the one-year term to three months, saying the bribe amount was too small, but directed the police to take Prasad into custody as he was guilty of the crime.

"The case was also dragging and the bribe money was too small, so Prasad thought he would get a reprieve from the court," prosecution lawyer Vipin Kumar Sinha told reporters after the verdict. "But all the charges has been proved against him."

Indian justice is often delivered at a glacial pace and a case can drag for decades with endless hearings.

(Writing by Bappa Majumdar; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Sugita Katyal)

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