A Supreme Court Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Vikram Nath acquitted 3 Bus conductors - accused of a scandal that caused losses to the Government amounting to crores of rupees - as it found that there was not enough evidence against the accused.

Senior Advocate Neeraj Jain appeared for the Appellant while Advocate Jaspreet Gogia appeared for the Respondents before the Court.

In this case, a driver of the Punjab Roadways Depot made a complaint to the higher officers alleging that the General Manager of the Depot – in connivance with the conductor and others – had been selling and using tickets got printed on his own and sold through his own persons, who used to collect money for him and caused loss to the tune of crores of rupees to the Depot.

On the basis of this complaint, an Enquiry Committee was constituted. The Committee was of the view that with the connivance of the General Manager, a big scandal was committed and the Government was put to loss of lakhs of rupees.

On the basis of the Enquiry Report, a recommendation was made for suspending the General Manager, Traffic Manager, Assistant Mechanical Engineer, concerned Inspectors and Conductors. An FIR was registered under Sections 409, 419, 420, 465, 468, 467, 471, 474, 477­A and 120­B of IPC. Charges were framed against 15 persons, i.e., 7 conductors, 4 Inspectors and 4 senior officials.

Through Appeal before the Trial Court and High Court, all except 3 conductors were acquitted.

The 3 conductors appealed before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court opined that the Inspecting Team failed on multiple levels failed to prove the recovery of the tickets to have been validly made.

The Court also noted that the Inspecting Team also failed to prove the enquiry report as only a photocopy was filed and objections to the same was recorded in the statement itself.

To that end, it said "The prosecution did not make that effort to prove the existence of the original and loss thereof in order to take an order for leading secondary evidence. Thus, no reliance could be placed upon the enquiry report and even the High Court has recorded that enquiry report was not a piece of evidence. Once, the recovery of the tickets is found to have not been made in accordance with law, nor the seized tickets could be connected to the three different buses and the conductors manning the said buses (the appellants), it would not be safe to rely upon the unconfirmed tickets to connect them to the appellants. Secondly, the enquiry report having not been proved despite the State applying for leading secondary evidence and not pursuing it any further, there appears to be a complete vacuum of substratum on the basis of which, the entire case was set up by the prosecution."

Therefore, the Supreme Court found that there was no evidence to establish the charge against the conductors and allowed the Appeals. They were acquitted of all the charges against them and their conviction was set aside.

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