Proceedings In Corruption Case Cannot Be Quashed Based On Informant’s Hostile Testimony During Investigation: Orissa HC
The Orissa High Court has observed that the entire proceedings in a corruption case cannot be set aside even if the informant’s testimony has become inconsistent with the prosecution claim during the investigation stage.
The bench of Justice R.K. Pattanaik held that “…vigilance proceeding before the learned court below cannot be quashed even after the informant’s hostile testimony during investigation as the demand and acceptance of illegal gratification by the petitioner would still depend on the probative value of other evidence including that of the over-hearing witness.”
A Vigilance case was instituted with the allegation made therein regarding the illegal demand of Rs.23,000 as bribe by the petitioner from the informant towards new electricity connection for a welding shop. In that regard, a trap was laid by the Vigilance team and allegedly the said amount was recovered from the petitioner.
The challenge in the present case is that the informant did not support the alleged trap and recovery of the bribe amount from the petitioner while being examined during investigation.
It was argued, therefore, the entire prosecution would now have to depend on the evidence of the over-hearing witness but the same is not sufficient to prove and establish the fact of illegal demand of bribe and its acceptance which are the essential ingredients to be satisfied.
According to the petitioner, after such hostile testimony of the informant not supporting the trap, no cogent and credible evidence left to criminally prosecute the petitioner with regard to the demand and acceptance of illegal gratification.
Advocate Hemanta Ku. Mund appeared for the petitioner-accused whereas Advocate P.K. Pani appeared for the State.
The Court observed that “No doubt the essential ingredients of demand and acceptance shall have to be established to bring home the charge but even when a material witness does not support the prosecution after being a part of the alleged trap at whose instance it was laid, the Court is of the considered view that notwithstanding his hostile testimony during investigation, the whole of the evidence cannot be discarded.”
The Court noted that the demand and acceptance may be proved from other materials during the trial.
“Whether there was a demand and acceptance of illegal gratification by an accused can still be proved by incriminating evidence even when the prosecution case does not receive any support from a witness like the informant.”, the Court added.
Thus the Court dismissed the plea of the accused seeking quashing of proceedings.
Cause Title- Brahmananda Sahu v. State of Orissa (Vigilance)