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Acceptance Of Bribe Can Be Presumed If Accused Fails To Give Satisfactory Explanation For Possessing Bribe Money: SC [Read Judgment]

‘Since it is established that the accused was possessing the bribe money, it was for them to explain that how the bribe money has been received by them and if he fails to offer any satisfactory explanation, it will be presumed that he has accepted the bribe.’

Interpreting Section 20 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Supreme Court in State of Gujarat vs. Navinbhai Chandrakant Joshi, has observed that once the prosecution has established that the accused was possessing the bribe money, it is for the accused to explain that how the bribe money has been received by him and if he fails to offer any satisfactory explanation, it will be presumed that he has accepted the bribe.

The State of Gujarat had assailed the Gujarat High Court verdict in a corruption case wherein it had reversed the conviction recorded by the trial court. The trial court had held that the demand and acceptance of the illegal gratification was proved by the prosecution by the evidence and also by the presence of anthracene powder in the shirt pocket and the right hand of accused.

However, the high court observed that there was no recovery from accused and that the demand and acceptance by the accused persons has not been proved by the prosecution.

A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R Banumathi, perusing the judgments of the trial court and high court, observed that, when the demand and acceptance of illegal gratification has been proved by the evidence, the high court was not right in holding that the demand and acceptance was not proved.

The bench, referring to CM Girish Babu vs. C.B.I. Cochin, High Court of Kerala, observed: “So far as the presumption raised under Section 20 of the Act for the offence under Section 7 of the Act is concerned, it is settled law that the presumption raised under Section 20 of the Act is a rebuttable presumption, and that the burden placed on the appellant for rebutting the presumption is one of preponderance of probabilities.”

Setting aside the high court judgment, the bench said: “Since it is established that the accused was possessing the bribe money, it was for them to explain that how the bribe money has been received by them and if he fails to offer any satisfactory explanation, it will be presumed that he has accepted the bribe..In the case in hand, the accused have not offered any explanation to rebut the presumption under Section 20 of the Act. On the other hand, from the evidence of PW-1 that accused No.1 demanded the bribe appears to be natural. The application for approval of revised plan was earlier rejected. When the complainant and his advocate met TDO and on whose direction PW-1 has paid the requisite fine amount, the file has to necessarily move. It was at that point of time accused No.1 demanded bribe amount from PW-1. While appreciating the evidence, the High Court should have given proper weight to the views of the trial court as to the credibility of all evidence of PWs 1 and 3.”

Read the Judgment Here

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