Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Whether junior officer can be convicted under prevention of Corruption Act on allegation that he has accepted bribe on behalf of senior officer?

 We have considered the submissions and perused the
materials on record. P.W.2 was desirous for transfer of the
electric connection on the land in question in his own name to
facilitate a subsidy of Rs.625/every
six months. The village
administrative officer was required to sign the necessary
documents for the purpose. P.W.2 lodged a written complaint on
17.12.2003 against the village administrative officer alone for
having demanded a sum of Rs.600/as
illegal gratification for the
purpose. P.W.2 lodged a written report regarding the same.
Necessary mazhar was prepared. The appellants were village
assistants in the office of the village administrative officer. The
village administrative officer came to the office along with accused
no.3 while accused no.2 waited at the office for both of them. The
money was handed over to accused no.2 on the instructions of
the village administrative officer. The significance of accused no.2
counting the money before handing it over to accused no.3 who

put it in his shirt pocket, lay in the confirmation that the amount
was in consonance with the demand, of which naturally the
appellants were therefore aware of. It was only after the money as
demanded was paid that accused no.3 filled up the form for
transfer of the electric connection in the name of P.W.2 and
placed it before the village administrative officer who then signed
and put his seal on the same. At this moment, they were
apprehended. The money was handed over to the trap officials by
the village administrative officer after taking it back from accused
no.3. Their hands were dipped in the sodium carbonate solution,
including the shirt of the third accused, leading to change of
colour of the solution confirming that they were the same notes
which were given to P.W.2 by the trap officials.
6. P.W.1 proved the sanction for the prosecution. The mere
absence of any specific statement by P.W.2 and the trap witness
P.W.4 of any demand and acceptance by the appellants,
attributing the same only to the village administrative officer can
be of no avail to the appellants. P.W.10, Inspector Crime Branch
proved the trap proceedings and recovery. The defence of the

appellants that they had received the money in the bonafide belief
that it was towards arrears of land tax is belied by the fact that
land tax for the period in question had already been cancelled by
the State Government. The taking of a false defence is a further
aggravating circumstance against the appellants. The second
contention that it is improbable that a demand of Rs.600/would
have been made for a subsidy benefit of Rs.625/only,
ignores
the fact that it entitled P.W.2 for a subsidy of Rs.625/every
six
months. Evidently the appellants were in league with the village
administrative officer.
7. The contention that there was no demand or acceptance by
the appellants or that it was in a bonafide belief merits no
consideration. The prosecution was therefore able to establish a
prima facie case against the appellants. Section 20 of the Act
provides that if an accused public servant has accepted or
obtained for himself or for any other person any undue advantage
from any person, there shall be a presumption unless the
contrary is proved that he accepted or obtained that undue
advantage as a motive of reward for performance of a public duty

improperly or dishonestly either by himself or by another public
servant. The acquittal of the appellants under Section 7 of the
Act, in our opinion in the facts of the present case, is
inconsequential and cannot negate the presumption drawn
against them. The fact that P.W.2 in his chief may not have
named accused no.2 is considered inconsequential.
8. In Virendranath (supra), the venue for payment of the
illegal gratification was at a restaurant. The illegal gratification on
directions of the prime accused was handed over to the owner of
the restaurant. The acquittal of the restaurant owner by this
Court was based on an entirely different reason which has no
application to the facts of the present case. We consider it
appropriate to set out the same below:
“5. Insofar as A2
is concerned, we find
considerable merit in the contention raised on
his behalf that he could have received the money
innocently from the complainant at the asking of
A1,
without realising that it was bribe money.
The argument prevails because the prosecution
has nowhere led any other evidence of conduct
or consistency of a behaviour from which it could
be spelt out that A2
was a habitual gobetween
in facilitating acceptance of bribe by A1.
This
single instance which has been brought forth
does not reveal of any regularity of conduct of

this nature. There thus exists an area of doubt,
the benefit of which shall go to A2.
Accordingly,
the appeal of A2
is allowed and he is acquitted
of the charges.”
9. In T. Shankar Prasad (supra), the prime accused directed
the money to be handed over to the coaccused
when both of
them were caught on the spot and the money recovered from the
coaccused.
The coaccused
took the plea that there was no proof
of demand and acceptance against him. A similar defence was
taken that he had accepted the same in the bonafide belief
towards advance tax. Referring to Section 20 of the Act, noticing
that there was no material towards any advance tax liability, it
was observed:
“24. ….An overall consideration of the materials
sufficiently substantiates, in the case on hand, the
prevalence of a system and methodology cleverly
adopted by the accused that the demand will be
specified when both the accused were present and
thereafter as and when A1
puts his signature the
party has to meet A2
at his seat for fixing the seal
and making entry in the register to make the
process complete only after collecting the amount
already specified by A1
in A2’
s presence. The
involvement of both of them in a wellplanned
and
cleverly managed device to systematically collect
money stood sufficiently established on the
evidence let in by the prosecution. Further, A2
did

not offer his explanation immediately after the
recovery of money. A similar plea of receiving
money as advance tax was rejected and affirmed by
this Court in A. Abdul Kaffar v. State of Kerala. It
was noted that such a stand was not taken at the
firstavailable
opportunity and the defence was not
genuine. 

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO(s).1208 OF 2019

GURUVIAH  Vs  THE STATE REPRESENTED BY
THE INSPECTOR OF POLICE
NAVIN SINHA, J.
Dated:AUGUST 20, 2019.



The appellants, who are village assistants, challenge their
conviction under Sections 13(1)(d), 13(2) and 12 of the Prevention
of Corruption Act, 1988 (hereinafter called as “the Act”) with fine
and a default stipulation, sentencing them to one year of rigorous
imprisonment. The appellants have been acquitted of the charge

under Section 7 of the Act and Section 109 of the Indian Penal
Code. The village administrative officer, accused no.1, was
convicted under Sections 7, 13(1)(d), 13(2) and 12 of the Act. He
has since been deceased during the pendency of his separate
appeal.
2. The appellants were village assistants in the office of the
village administrative officer, arrayed as accused 2 and 3. On
17.12.2003, P.W. 2 lodged a written complaint before the
Additional Superintendent of Police (Vigilance and AntiCorruption)
that the village administrative officer had demanded
a sum of Rs.600/for
signing the necessary papers to facilitate
transfer of electric connection in the name of the complainant.
The illegal gratification is stated to have been handed over to one
of the appellants on the instruction of the village administrative
officer, and who after counting it handed it over to the other
appellant. They were apprehended by the trap officials
immediately thereafter and the money recovered.

3. Learned senior counsel Shri S. Nagamuthu, appearing for
the appellants, submitted that according to P.W.2 the demand
had been exclusively made by the village administrative officer
alone. The latter alone was competent to sign the necessary
papers to facilitate transfer of the electric connection. The
appellants were menial assistants in his office. There was no
occasion for them to demand any illegal gratification as they were
incompetent to grant any favour to P.W.2. The appellants had
never made any demand for illegal gratification from P.W.2. They
had only received the money from P.W.2 on the instructions of
the village administrative officer in the bonafide belief that it was
payment towards demand of arrears of land tax, for which a
receipt had already been issued earlier without actual payment.
In the absence of any proof for demand and acceptance by the
appellants, they cannot be convicted on assumptions and
presumptions. There is no proof of any conspiracy. Mere recovery
from the appellants was not sufficient for conviction. It is
unlikely that a demand of Rs.600/would
be made to facilitate a
subsidy of Rs.625/.
Reliance in support of the submissions was
placed on Virendranath vs. State of Maharashtra, 1996 (11)
SCC 688.

4. Shri M. Yogesh Kannan, learned counsel for the State,
submitted that evidently the appellants were in league with the
village administrative officer. Mere absence of direct evidence for
demand and acceptance or conspiracy was irrelevant in view of
the circumstantial evidence available and which unhesitatingly
points towards the appellants as being part of design for
obtaining illegal gratification. The demand undoubtedly was
made by the village administrative officer alone. The money was
handed over to accused no.2 on his instructions. After counting
the amount, accused no.2 handed over the money to appellant
no.3 who put it in his shirt pocket. The application form was then
filled up by accused no.3 after which the village administrative
officer signed and put seal. The transfer of electric connection
would have facilitated P.W.2 to obtain a subsidy of Rs.625/every
six months. The defence of the appellants that the money was
received bonafide in the belief that it was towards arrears of land
tax for Fasli years 1412 and 1413 is falsified by the fact that
taxation for the years in question had already been cancelled by
the State Government. Relying upon T. Shankar Prasad vs.

State of A.P., (2004) 3 SCC 753, it was submitted that the
conviction and sentence of the appellants calls for no
interference.
5. We have considered the submissions and perused the
materials on record. P.W.2 was desirous for transfer of the
electric connection on the land in question in his own name to
facilitate a subsidy of Rs.625/every
six months. The village
administrative officer was required to sign the necessary
documents for the purpose. P.W.2 lodged a written complaint on
17.12.2003 against the village administrative officer alone for
having demanded a sum of Rs.600/as
illegal gratification for the
purpose. P.W.2 lodged a written report regarding the same.
Necessary mazhar was prepared. The appellants were village
assistants in the office of the village administrative officer. The
village administrative officer came to the office along with accused
no.3 while accused no.2 waited at the office for both of them. The
money was handed over to accused no.2 on the instructions of
the village administrative officer. The significance of accused no.2
counting the money before handing it over to accused no.3 who

put it in his shirt pocket, lay in the confirmation that the amount
was in consonance with the demand, of which naturally the
appellants were therefore aware of. It was only after the money as
demanded was paid that accused no.3 filled up the form for
transfer of the electric connection in the name of P.W.2 and
placed it before the village administrative officer who then signed
and put his seal on the same. At this moment, they were
apprehended. The money was handed over to the trap officials by
the village administrative officer after taking it back from accused
no.3. Their hands were dipped in the sodium carbonate solution,
including the shirt of the third accused, leading to change of
colour of the solution confirming that they were the same notes
which were given to P.W.2 by the trap officials.
6. P.W.1 proved the sanction for the prosecution. The mere
absence of any specific statement by P.W.2 and the trap witness
P.W.4 of any demand and acceptance by the appellants,
attributing the same only to the village administrative officer can
be of no avail to the appellants. P.W.10, Inspector Crime Branch
proved the trap proceedings and recovery. The defence of the

appellants that they had received the money in the bonafide belief
that it was towards arrears of land tax is belied by the fact that
land tax for the period in question had already been cancelled by
the State Government. The taking of a false defence is a further
aggravating circumstance against the appellants. The second
contention that it is improbable that a demand of Rs.600/would
have been made for a subsidy benefit of Rs.625/only,
ignores
the fact that it entitled P.W.2 for a subsidy of Rs.625/every
six
months. Evidently the appellants were in league with the village
administrative officer.
7. The contention that there was no demand or acceptance by
the appellants or that it was in a bonafide belief merits no
consideration. The prosecution was therefore able to establish a
prima facie case against the appellants. Section 20 of the Act
provides that if an accused public servant has accepted or
obtained for himself or for any other person any undue advantage
from any person, there shall be a presumption unless the
contrary is proved that he accepted or obtained that undue
advantage as a motive of reward for performance of a public duty

improperly or dishonestly either by himself or by another public
servant. The acquittal of the appellants under Section 7 of the
Act, in our opinion in the facts of the present case, is
inconsequential and cannot negate the presumption drawn
against them. The fact that P.W.2 in his chief may not have
named accused no.2 is considered inconsequential.
8. In Virendranath (supra), the venue for payment of the
illegal gratification was at a restaurant. The illegal gratification on
directions of the prime accused was handed over to the owner of
the restaurant. The acquittal of the restaurant owner by this
Court was based on an entirely different reason which has no
application to the facts of the present case. We consider it
appropriate to set out the same below:
“5. Insofar as A2
is concerned, we find
considerable merit in the contention raised on
his behalf that he could have received the money
innocently from the complainant at the asking of
A1,
without realising that it was bribe money.
The argument prevails because the prosecution
has nowhere led any other evidence of conduct
or consistency of a behaviour from which it could
be spelt out that A2
was a habitual gobetween
in facilitating acceptance of bribe by A1.
This
single instance which has been brought forth
does not reveal of any regularity of conduct of

this nature. There thus exists an area of doubt,
the benefit of which shall go to A2.
Accordingly,
the appeal of A2
is allowed and he is acquitted
of the charges.”
9. In T. Shankar Prasad (supra), the prime accused directed
the money to be handed over to the coaccused
when both of
them were caught on the spot and the money recovered from the
coaccused.
The coaccused
took the plea that there was no proof
of demand and acceptance against him. A similar defence was
taken that he had accepted the same in the bonafide belief
towards advance tax. Referring to Section 20 of the Act, noticing
that there was no material towards any advance tax liability, it
was observed:
“24. ….An overall consideration of the materials
sufficiently substantiates, in the case on hand, the
prevalence of a system and methodology cleverly
adopted by the accused that the demand will be
specified when both the accused were present and
thereafter as and when A1
puts his signature the
party has to meet A2
at his seat for fixing the seal
and making entry in the register to make the
process complete only after collecting the amount
already specified by A1
in A2’
s presence. The
involvement of both of them in a wellplanned
and
cleverly managed device to systematically collect
money stood sufficiently established on the
evidence let in by the prosecution. Further, A2
did

not offer his explanation immediately after the
recovery of money. A similar plea of receiving
money as advance tax was rejected and affirmed by
this Court in A. Abdul Kaffar v. State of Kerala. It
was noted that such a stand was not taken at the
firstavailable
opportunity and the defence was not
genuine. In State of U.P. v. Dr G.K. Ghosh it was
observed that in case of an offence of demanding
and accepting illegal gratification, depending on the
circumstances of the case, the court may feel safe
in accepting the prosecution version on the basis of
the oral evidence of the complainant and the
official witnesses even if the trap witnesses turn
hostile or are found not to be independent. When
besides such evidence, there is circumstantial
evidence which is consistent with the guilt of the
accused and not consistent with his innocence,
there should be no difficulty in upholding the
conviction.”
10. We find no merit in the appeals, which are dismissed. The
appellants are directed to surrender forthwith for serving out
their remaining sentence.
…………...................J.
[ASHOK BHUSHAN]
…………...................J.
[NAVIN SINHA]
NEW DELHI
AUGUST 20, 2019.

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