The Supreme Court has observed that every demand made for payment of money is not a demand for gratification. The Court added that in order to infer that the demand was made for gratification, it has to be something more than mere demand for money.

The bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal made this observation while setting aside the conviction and sentence imposed on the appellant for the offences punishable under Section 7 and clauses (i) and (ii) of Section13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

“Every demand made for payment of money is not a demand for gratification. It has to be something more than mere demand for money.”, the Court held while allowing the appeal.

In this case, the appellant was accused of demanding a bribe of Rs.10,000 for getting the electricity meter installed. The Special Court held that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence on record to prove the guilt of the appellant.

A finding was recorded on the basis of circumstantial evidence that the demand and acceptance were proved. The order of conviction of the Special Court as regards the appellant was confirmed by the High Court in the impugned judgment.

Senior Advocate S. Nagamuthu appearing for the appellant submitted that it is a case where there is no evidence of demand of illegal gratification by the appellant.

Aishwarya Bhati, Additional Solicitor General, appeared for the prosecution.

The Court noted that in this case, any direct evidence of demand has to be examined. The Court added that in case there is no direct evidence of demand, whether there is any circumstantial evidence to prove the demand needs to be considered.

The Court observed that “When we consider the issue of proof of demand within the meaning of Section 7, it cannot be a simpliciter demand for money but it has to be a demand of gratification other than legal remuneration. All that PW­5 says is when the appellant visited the shop of the complainant, she asked the complainant to give papers regarding the electricity meter and Rs.10,000/­ to her by telling him that she was in a hurry. This is not a case where a specific demand of gratification for providing electricity meter was made by the appellant to the complainant in the presence of the shadow witness.”

Thus the Court held “… there are no circumstances brought on record which will prove the demand for gratification. Therefore, the ingredients of the offence under Section 7 of the PC Act were not established and consequently, the offence under Section 13(1)(d) will not be attracted.”

Accordingly, the Court set aside the impugned judgment and the judgment of the Special Court and set aside the conviction and sentence of the appellant.

Cause Title- Neeraj Dutta v. State (Govt. of N.C.T. of Delhi)

Click here to read/download Judgment