Unexplained Excessive Asset Brings Misconduct Of Public Servant U/s. 13(1)(e) Of Prevention Of Corruption Act: Madras HC
The Madras High Court has set aside the order of acquittal passed by the Trial Court, after having found the accused i.e., a public servant guilty of the offence under Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
The Bench of Justice G. Jayachandran observed that “since the asset held by the accused i.e., a public servant during the check period is over and above his known source of income, hence, unexplained excessive asset brings the misconduct of the accused within the definition of Section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988”.
Advocate S. Udaya Kumar appeared for the Appellant and Advocate V. Gopinath appeared for the Respondent.
The observation came in reference to a criminal appeal preferred by the State against the order of acquittal passed by the trial Court, where the respondent (Assistant Commissioner of Police, Madurai) being a public servant was acquitted from the charge of holding disproportionate assets over and above the known source of his income, which is punishable under Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
After considering the submissions, the High Court observed that a public servant, who is tried for holding assets disproportionate to his known source of income is expected to satisfactorily account for the assets he holds, and the explanation offered regarding the value of the property and the source to acquire the property should be his salary and a regular income if any from his property or/and investments.
At the same time, a receipt from windfall or gain of graft, crime or immoral secretions by persons prima facie would not be receipt from the known source of income of a public servant, added the High Court.
The Court found that the accused does not deny the statement of the properties he holds as stated by the prosecution. Rather, he only denies the value of the properties and has provided the source by way of explanation, defence witnesses and exhibits.
“It is unfortunate that, a government servant found in possession of asset over and above the source of income, even after affording an opportunity to suitable explain about the asset in his hand was not able to suitable explain it and explanation offered is not sufficient to wash out the gross dis-proportionality. So, during the trial, he had procured witnesses and create documents to make believe the trial Court that he had enough source of income. Equally it is unfortunate that the Judge, who tried the case had gone a step ahead and had manipulated the value of the property and income so that it would appear as if in spite of investing in the properties and expenditure for his family, still the accused have surplus to the tune of Rs.4,47,000/-“, opined the Single Judge.
Further, the Bench observed that Rs. 3 lacs had been added as the agriculture income for 18 years prior to the check period under Statement-I and the same was absolutely erroneous. For the very same reason, the agriculture income accrued 18 years prior to the check period cannot be taken and included under Statement-III, which is meant for income during the check period.
“While the accused in his explanation, has stated that, this agriculture income from the ancestral property is Rs.2,50,000/-, there is no good reason for the trial Court to fix it as Rs.4.25 lacs. Therefore, a sum of Rs.1,25,000/- has to be deducted. The admitted income of the accused from the ancestral property has to be accepted and the same is taken in to account as Rs.2.5 lacs. So, the agriculture income from the ancestral property is fixed during the check period as Rs.2.5 lacs as claimed by the accused instead of Rs.4.25 lacs fixed by the trial Court”, noted the Single Judge.
The High Court, therefore, allowed the appeal, after having found that the value of the property of the accused is double his known source of income.
Cause Title: State v. Thiru. S. Vasanthakumar