The Madras High Court has recently convicted its Court Officer for cheating an illiterate and poor man by taking a bribe from him on a false representation that he would secure the job. The Court sentenced the Court Officer to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years and imposed a fine of Rs. 5,000/-.

A Single Bench of Justice P. Velmurugan held, “… this Court finds that the transaction between the respondent and the defacto-complianant is not loan transaction or money transaction. From the evidence of P.Ws.1 to 3, the respondent has committed charged offences. The trial court failed to appreciate the evidence and also antecedents of the respondent and simply acquitted the accused. … the respondent not only cheated the defacto complainant and committed offence under Sections 420 IPC, but also, as a public servant, he obtained other than the legal remuneration and committed offence under Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.”

The Bench while allowing the appeal preferred by the State said that once the accused (Court Officer) admitted the money received from the complainant, it is for the accused to prove the monetary transaction between them was not an illegal gratification and that there is no material available on the side of the defence to prove the same.

“The defacto complainant is neither a banker, pawn broker nor money lender and he is a jobless and very poor person. It is highly improbable that the respondent being a government servant, would have approached a poor person like the defacto complainant, seeking financial assistance”, the Court also said.

Additional Public Prosecutor G.V. Kasthuri appeared for the State/appellant while Advocate R.M. Meenakshi Sundaram appeared for the accused/respondent.

Brief Facts

The State filed an appeal before the High Court seeking to set aside the judgment of acquittal of the accused passed by the Special Court for the offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The accused/respondent was working as a Court Officer and misrepresented that he would secure a job in the Madras High Court for the complainant by using his office power and hence demanded Rs. 40,000/- from him.

The accused took Rs. 20,000/- as a portion of the said amount from the complainant and instructed him to pay the balance amount later. Since he did not make any arrangements for securing a job, the complainant asked him to return the money. Thereafter, he issued a cheque in favour of the complainant and when the same was presented for collection, it got dishonoured.

The High Court after hearing the arguments of both parties observed, “… it is clear that the respondent has not borrowed any loan, which clearly shows that the respondent received money to secure a job for the complainant/P.W.1. … There is no material to show that the respondent obtained permission from the department or competent authority for borrowal of money. It is for the respondent to prove that the money received from the defacto complainant is a loan amount.”

The Court further noted that the respondent cheated the illiterates by making a false representation that he would secure the job for which he demanded money and if he failed to do so, in order to repay the money, he issued a cheque.

“… this Court does not find any mitigating circumstances to award lesser punishment. The respondent is convicted for the offence under Section 420 IPC and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 3 years and to pay a fine of Rs.5,000/- (Rupees Five Thousand Only), in default, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a further period of one year”, the Court directed.

The Court, therefore, allowed the appeal and set aside the order of acquittal passed by the Special Court and convicted the Court Officer.

Cause Title- State v. V.D. Mohanakrishnan

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