Recovery Of Tainted Money In Itself Is Not Enough For Conviction U/s. 7 Of Prevention Of Corruption Act: Punjab & Haryana HC
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that for conviction under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, demand and acceptance have to be proved and mere recovery of the tainted money in itself is not enough for conviction under the said provision.
The Bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan in this context further held -
"The presumption under Section 20 of the Act can be drawn if the acceptance of the amount is proved and for proving the acceptance, demand is pre-requisite. It is also settled that presumption under Section 20 the Act can be inferred for conviction under Section 7 of the Act and not under Section 13(1)(d) of the Act. The defence taken by the appellant has to be tested on probabilities of preponderance. The onus is not as heavy on the accused as on the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt."
The Bench while setting aside the judgment and order of sentence of the Trial Court observed –
"The evidence in the shape of hand wash test and recovery of the laced currency notes from the purse of the appellant in such circumstances cannot be made sole basis for proving acceptance of bribe. On failure to prove acceptance of bribe, presumption under Section 20 of the Act cannot be drawn against the appellant."
Advocate Nikhil Ghai appeared on behalf of the appellant whereas, Assistant Advocate General, Mr. Gurmeet Singh appeared for the State of Haryana.
Brief facts of the case –
The appellant was posted as Patwari and was alleged of demanding bribe of Rs. 2,500/- for correction of Khasra Girdawari regarding redemption of the mortgaged land. Five notes each of denomination Rs. 500/- were initialled and laced with Phenolphthalein power. The shadow witness was instructed to accompany the complainant and to give signal to the raiding party on passing of the bribe to the appellant.
The appellant sitting on a motor cycle was apprehended at about 2:15 P.M. on a signal from the shadow witness. The laced currency notes were recovered from a purse kept in pocket of his pant. On washing the hand and pocket of the appellant's pant, the colour of the solution turned into pink colour.
The challan was filed, charges were framed after the grant of sanction and the appellant pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. The Trial Court convicted and awarded sentence to the appellant.
Therefore, the appellant filed the appeal in the High Court.
The High Court noted –
"It would be appropriate to mention here that as per prosecution the appellant was apprehended at 2:15 P.M. The defence taken by the appellant was substantiated by the depositions of DW2 to DW4 and creates a dent on the story of the prosecution."
The Court further noted that there is no evidence to substantiate the demand of illegal gratification by the appellant.
The Court further observed –
"On considering the facts and re-appreciating evidence, the judgment of conviction and order of quantum cannot be upheld on account of failure of the prosecution to prove sine qua non for conviction i.e. demand and acceptance of the illegal gratification."
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed by the High Court.
Cause Title – Parveen Kumar v. State of Haryana