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Prevention Of Corruption Act| Mere Recovery Of Tainted Notes From Accused Not Sufficient, Demand & Acceptance Of Bribe Sine Qua Non: Chhattisgarh HC

Shrutika Pandey
25 Jan 2022 6:47 AM GMT
Prevention Of Corruption Act| Mere Recovery Of Tainted Notes From Accused Not Sufficient, Demand & Acceptance Of Bribe Sine Qua Non: Chhattisgarh HC
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The Chhattisgarh High Court has observed that to constitute an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the prosecution must prove that there was a demand for money, and the same was voluntarily accepted by the accused.Mere recovery of tainted note from the possession of accused is not enough, it added.Accordingly, Justice Rajani Dubey set aside the conviction of the appellant, a...

The Chhattisgarh High Court has observed that to constitute an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the prosecution must prove that there was a demand for money, and the same was voluntarily accepted by the accused.

Mere recovery of tainted note from the possession of accused is not enough, it added.

Accordingly, Justice Rajani Dubey set aside the conviction of the appellant, a Police Head Constable, alleged to be involved in bribery.

It remarked,

"To constitute an offence under Section 161 IPC is it necessary for the prosecution to prove that there was demand of money and the same was voluntarily accepted by the accused. Similarly, in terms of Section 5(1)(d) of the Act, the demand and acceptance of the money for doing a favor in the discharge of his official duties is a sine qua non to the conviction of the accused."

Background

The present matter is a second appeal challenging a judgment of conviction by the Additional Sessions Judge (Special Judge, Prevention of Corruption Act) under Section 161 of the IPC and Section 5(1)(d) read with Section 5(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act. The appellant was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one year and a fine of Rs. 1000/-.

In the prosecution's case, the complainant lodged a report against his nephew for causing damage to his house. However, it is alleged that the appellant demanded Rs. 1,000/- to initiate action on the report. Therefore, an offence under Section 161 of IPC and Section 5(2)(d)/(5)(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act was charge-sheeted. 

The conviction was challenged to be contrary to law and evidence available on record. Their defense is that the appellant filed proceedings under Section 106, 107, and 116 of IPC against the complainant, and thus this retaliatory charge is being put.

Findings of the Court

Referring to statements of witnesses and a catena of judicial precedents, the Court held that the evidence on record must be closely examined to find out whether the prosecution has been able to prove demand of bribe beyond all reasonable doubt. Still, the complainant is the sole witness of the demand for a bribe in this case.

"In this case also the demand and acceptance of bribe are doubtful. Mere recovery of tainted notes from the possession of the appellant is not enough," it added.

It observed that in terms of Section 5(1)(d) of the PC Act, the demand and acceptance of the money for doing a favor in the discharge of his official duties is a sine qua non to the conviction of the accused. It held,

"In this case demand of bribe money, it is admitted that recording of the conversation made between the appellant and complainant was not done. The demand for bribes is highly doubtful, but the appellant's defense is probable that he initiated proceedings against the complainant so he complained against the appellant. Panch witness has also not supported the acceptance of money."

Concluding that demand and acceptance of bribe are doubtful and that mere recovery of tainted note from the appellant's possession is not enough, the Court allowed the appeal on the benefit of the doubt.

The Court set aside the judgment of conviction and order of sentence is set-aside, acquitting the appellant of all charges leveled against him.

Case Title: Laxman Singh v. the State of Chhattisgarh

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Chh) 5

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