A Three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court has referred to larger bench the question whether in the absence of evidence of complainant/direct or primary evidence of demand of illegal gratification, is it not permissible to draw inferential deduction of culpability/guilt of a public servant under Section 7 and Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 based on other evidence adduced by the prosecution?
The bench comprising Justice NV Ramana, Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Justice Ajay Rastogi was considering a reference made to it by a two judge bench when it noticed that there are conflicting views of three judge benches in this regard. It said:
"We note that two three-judge benches of this Court, in the cases of B. Jayaraj v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (2014) 13 SCC 55; and P.Satyanarayana Murthy v. District Inspector of Police, State of Andhra Pradesh and Another, (2015) 10 SCC 152, are in conflict with an earlier three-judge bench decision of this Court in M. Narsinga Rao v. State of A.P., (2001) 1 SCC 691, regarding the nature and quality of proof necessary to sustain a conviction for the offences under Section 7 and 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 when the primary evidence of the complainant is unavailable."
In Satyanarayana Murthy judgment, it was held that the failure of the prosecution to prove the demand for illegal gratification due to the death of complainant would be fatal to the prosecution case and recovery of the amount from the accused would not entail his conviction.
In its reference order [Neeraj Dutta vs. State], the two judge bench had opined that insistence of direct proof or primary evidence for proving the demand may not be in consonance with the view taken many judgments wherein despite the absence of primary evidence of the complainant, the Apex Court had sustained the conviction of the accused by relying on other evidence, and raising a presumption under the statute.
Click here to Read/Download Order