Demand For Illegal Gratification Is Pre-Requisite For Offence Under PCA: Kerala HC While Quashing Case Against IUML Leader K.M. Shaji
The Kerala High Court while quashing a case of corruption against IUML (Indian Union Muslim League) leader and former MLA K.M. Shaji has held that for constituting an offence under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, demand for illegal gratification by the accused is a pre-requisite.
A Single Bench of Justice Kauser Edappagath asserted, “There is absolutely no case or allegation that the petitioner has ever made any demand from anybody for doing any act or forbearing to do any official act. The allegation is that the Manager of the school approached the Poothapara Branch Committee of the Indian Union Muslim League to get Plus Two Course to the School, and the demand for a bribe was made by the office bearers of the committee. … It is settled that demand for illegal gratification by the accused is a pre-requisite for constituting an offence under sections 7 and 13(1)(d) of the PC Act.”
The Bench noted that to attract the offence under Section 7 or 13(1)(d) of the PC Act, there should be an allegation that a public servant demanded and accepted illegal gratification.
Advocate Babu S. Nair represented the petitioner while Public Prosecutor C.K. Suresh and Additional Director General of Prosecution Gracious Kuriakose represented the respondents.
A plea was filed by the petitioner to quash the entire proceedings of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB), Kannur against him. An FIR was registered against the petitioner under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) r/w 13(2) of the PC Act alleging that he accepted a bribe of Rs. 25,00,000/- from the Manager of Azhikode Higher Secondary School, Kannur as a reward for taking steps to sanction Plus Two Course to the school.
The crime was registered following a complaint preferred by a member of Kannur Block Panchayat, to the Chief Minister of Kerala. The Director, VACB, Thiruvananthapuram, ordered to conduct a preliminary enquiry on the complaint and thereafter, the Deputy Superintendent of Police conducted the same and consequently, FIR was registered.
The High Court in view of the above facts noted, “… the High Court should be extremely cautious and slow to interfere with the investigation or trial of criminal cases and should not stall the investigation or prosecution. However, when it is convinced beyond any manner of doubt that FIR or the final report does not disclose the commission of any offence or that the allegations contained in the FIR or the final report do not constitute any cognizable offence or that the prosecution is barred by law or where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with malafides or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance or that it is necessary to interfere to prevent abuse of the process of the court, the High Court is entitled to quash the FIR or the final report under the exercise of its wholesome power under section 482 of Cr.P.C.”
The Court said that in the preliminary enquiry, it was revealed that out of Rs. 35,00,000/-, Rs. 25,00,000/- was given to the petitioner but the said observation is without any materials and that it is merely an assumption unsupported by any evidence.
“… I conclude that the allegations made in Annexure A FIR and the evidence collected in support of the same, even if believed in toto, do not prima facie disclose a cognizable offence or make out a case against the applicant. Hence, no purpose will be served in proceeding with the matter further”, held the Court.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the plea and quashed the case.
Cause Title- K.M. Shaji v. State of Kerala & Anr.