Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Top Stories

Mere Recovery Of Currency Notes From Public Servant Does Not Constitute Offence U/s 7 Of Prevention Of Corruption Act: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
3 Feb 2021 1:46 PM GMT
Mere Recovery Of Currency Notes From Public Servant Does Not Constitute Offence U/s 7 Of Prevention Of Corruption Act: Supreme Court
x

The Supreme Court has observed that mere possession or recovery of currency notes is not sufficient to constitute an offence under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.To prove the charge, it has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that accused voluntarily accepted money knowing it to be bribe, the bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR...

The Supreme Court has observed that  mere possession or recovery of currency notes is not sufficient to constitute an offence under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

To prove the charge, it has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that accused voluntarily accepted money knowing it to be bribe, the bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah observed while setting aside a High Court judgment which convicted an accused in a corruption case.

In this case, the accused, who was a Sanitary Inspector of Madurai Municipal Corporation, was acquitted in a corruption case by the Trial Court. The High Court, allowing the appeal filed by the State, reversed the Trial Court judgment and convicted the accused.

In appeal, taking note of the evidence on record, the bench observed that the demand for and acceptance of bribe amount and cell phone by the appellant, is not proved beyond reasonable doubt. The Court observed:

"It is equally well settled that mere recovery by itself cannot prove the charge of the prosecution against the accused. Reference can be made to the judgments of this Court in the case of C.M. Girish Babu v. CBI, Cochin, High Court of Kerala (2009) 3 SCC 779 and in the case of B. Jayaraj v. State of Andhra Pradesh (2014) 13 SCC 55. In the aforesaid judgments of this Court while considering the case under Sections 7, 13(1)(d)(i) and (ii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 it is reiterated that to prove the charge, it has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that accused voluntarily accepted money knowing it to be bribe. Absence of proof of demand for illegal gratification and mere possession or recovery of currency notes is not sufficient to constitute such offence. In the said judgments it is also held that even the presumption under Section 20 of the Act can be drawn only after demand for and acceptance of illegal gratification is proved. It is also fairly well settled that initial presumption of innocence in the criminal jurisprudence gets doubled by acquittal recorded by the trial court. "

The court also noted that, in this case, the finding of acquittal recorded by the trial court is a "possible view" and therefore the High Court ought not to have reversed the acquittal to that of the conviction. The bench observed:

"if the "possible view" of the trial court is not agreeable for the High Court, even then such "possible view" recorded by the trial court cannot be interdicted. It is further held that so long as the view of trial court can be reasonably formed, regardless of whether the High Court agrees with the same or not, verdict of trial court cannot be interdicted and the High court cannot supplant over the view of the trial court" 

While setting aside the High Court judgment, the bench observed:

"In view of the contradictions noticed by us above in the depositions of key witnesses examined on behalf of the prosecution, we are of the view that the demand for and acceptance of bribe amount and cell phone by the appellant, is not proved beyond reasonable doubt. Having regard to such evidence on record the acquittal recorded by the trial court is a "possible view" as such the judgment of the High Court is fit to be set aside. Before recording conviction under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, courts have to take utmost care in scanning the evidence. Once conviction is recorded under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, it casts a social stigma on the person in the society apart from serious consequences on the service rendered. At the same time it is also to be noted that whether the view taken by the trial court is a possible view or not, there cannot be any definite proposition and each case has to be judged on its own merits, having regard to evidence on record."


CASE: N.Vijayakumar vs. State of Tamil Nadu [CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 100­101 OF 2021] 
CORAM: Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah

COUNSEL: Sr. Adv S. Nagamuthu, Adv M. Yogesh Kanna

CITATION: LL 2021 SC 59

Click here to Read/Download Judgment

Read Judgment



Next Story