The Kerala High Court has upheld the conviction of a Village Officer accused of taking Rs. 500/- bribe on the ground that he availed pecuniary advantage by adopting corrupt and illegal means.

A Single Bench of Justice Kauser Edappagath held, “Admittedly, the appellant was a public servant as defined under Section 2(c) of the P.C. Act working in his capacity as Village Officer on the date of the alleged incident. The sequence of events and circumstances narrated above clearly proves that the appellant has accepted Rs.500/- as illegal gratification from the decoy witness by abusing his official position as public servant and availed pecuniary advantage by adopting corrupt and illegal means.”

The Bench said that the lower court was justified in convicting the accused for the offence under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) r/w 13(2) of the P.C. Act (Prevention of Corruption Act).

Advocate Shabu Sreedharan appeared for the appellant/accused while Special Public Prosecutor A. Rajesh appeared for the respondent/State.

Factual Background -

An appeal was preferred by the appellant against the Enquiry Commissioner and Special Judge, Kottayam challenging the judgment convicting and sentencing him under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) read with 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The appellant was working as Village Officer at Wagamon Village in the year 2006 and as per the prosecution case, he obtained ₹650/- as a bribe from the complainant/decoy at his office towards the consideration for giving a location map.

After trial, the appellant was found guilty and was convicted and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months and to pay a fine of ₹10,000/- under Section 7 of the PC Act. The substantive sentence was ordered to be run concurrently. Challenging the said conviction and sentence, the appellant approached the court.

The Court after hearing the arguments of the counsel for both parties observed, “The court below, which saw the demeanour of the witness, after evaluating the entire evidence on record, found that DW1 is nothing but a hired witness to speak utter falsehood before the court. It is not in dispute that PW’s 4 and 5 were present in the Village Office at the time of the alleged incident. However, PW’s 4 and 5 did not speak anything about the presence of DW1 at that relevant time. Apart from the interested testimony of DW1, there is nothing on record to prove his presence. Hence, the evidence of DW1 cannot be relied on as rightly held by the court below.”

Considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case, the Court further observed that the sentence imposed by the lower court is reasonable and hence the appeal fails.

“What remains is the sentence. The court below sentenced the appellant to undergo simple imprisonment for six months and to pay a fine of ₹10,000/- in default to suffer simple imprisonment for one month under Section 7 of the P.C. Act, rigorous imprisonment for one year and to pay a fine of Rs.15,000/- in default to suffer simple imprisonment for a period of six months for the offence under Section 13(1)(d) r/w 13(2) of the P.C. Act.”, noted the Court.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeal.

Cause Title- K.R. Muhammed Nazer v. State of Kerala (Neutral Citation: 2023:KER:34670)

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