Rajasthan High Court: Exercising its appellate jurisdiction, the single judge bench of N.S. Dhaddha, J., set aside the order of the Trial Court dated 28-01-1985 and stated that it erred in convicting the appellant under Section 161 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) read with Section 5(1)(d) and 5(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (‘Corruption Act’) as mere recovery of money could not be a ground to consider it as a bribe.
In the matter at hand, the appellant had challenged the order passed by the Trial Court which had convicted him for the offence of bribe under the provision of IPC and the Corruption Act alleging that the Trial Court had not read the prosecution evidence in the right perspective.
While relying on P. Satyanarayana Murthy v. District Inspector of Police, State of Andhra Pradesh, (2015) 10 SCC 152, the appellant submitted that the prosecution witnesses were interested parties thus making their evidence unreliable. He contended that the investigation conducted by the investigating officer was flawed as no charge-sheet was registered against the appellant’s colleagues who were involved in the alleged act with him on purpose.
On the other hand, the Public Prosecutor vehemently opposed the contentions of the appellant stating that his appeal was devoid of merits. It was the case of the prosecution that the complainant had purchased a tractor but registered it in his father’s name. He had visited the District Transport Office at Sikar, where the appellant was working as a clerk in 1979, to get the registration of his tractor changed. However, the complainant had alleged that the appellant had demanded Rs 150/- as bribe for himself and his colleagues.
The bench stated that the prosecution had failed to prove the demand and acceptance of the bribe by the appellant and mere recovery of money could not be a ground to consider it as a bribe. The bench was of the view that the investigating officer deliberately did not file charge-sheet against his colleagues either.
Thus, the Court while setting aside the order of the Trial Court dated 28-01-1985 stated that it erred in convicting the appellant under Section 161 of IPC read with Section 5(1)(d) and 5(2) of Corruption Act and further directed he appellant to furnish a personal bond.
With these observations, the bench quashed the Trial Court’s judgment.
[Hari Narayan v State of Rajasthan, 2023 SCC OnLine Raj 338, 13-02-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the appellant- Advocate Mahesh Gupta, Advocate S.S. Sharma, and Advocate Priyanshi Katta;
For the Respondent – Public Prosecutor Chandragupt Chopra.