Madras High Court

Madras High Court: In a criminal appeal filed under Section 378 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘CrPC’), to set aside the judgment of acquittal of the respondent/accused passed by the Special Court for the offences under Sections 420 of Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, P. Velmurugan, J. held that the respondent not only cheated the complainant and committed an offence under Sections 420 IPC, but also, as a public servant, he obtained other than the legal remuneration and committed offence under Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

In the case at hand, the respondent/accused was working as court officer in this Court. Taking advantage of his official position, he misrepresented the complainant that he could secure a job for himself by using his influence and demanded and accepted an amount of Rs. 40,000/- from the complainant on two occasions. Since he has not made any arrangement for securing a job, the complainant asked him to return the money. Hence the accused issued a cheque in favour of the complainant and when the cheque was presented for collection, it was dishonored.

The Trial Court concluded that the prosecution failed to establish the guilt of the accused punishable under Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act and 420 IPC and acquitted the accused by extending the benefit of doubt on him. Challenging the judgment of acquittal, the State has preferred the present criminal appeal.

The issue was whether money received by the accused is a bribe /illegal gratification for the purpose of securing job or it is a loan/money transaction?

The Court noted from the evidence that the respondent has not borrowed any loan, which clearly shows that he had received money to secure a job for the complainant and said that being a public servant, he should not have any financial transaction with the private party without prior permission from the department. There is no material to show that he had obtained permission from the department or competent authority to borrow money. Further, it is for the accused to prove that the money received from the defacto complainant is a loan amount.

The Court noted that earlier, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against the accused for similar allegation. Further, it said that the complainant has filed a private complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 does not mean that the money given by the complainant is a loan amount.

The Court said that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, it held that the transaction between the respondent and the complainant is not loan transaction or money transaction.

[State v V.D. Mohanakrishnan, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 1184, decided on 16-02-2023]

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