Karnataka High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

   

Karnataka High Court: M Nagaprasanna, J. quashed the proceedings initiated against a public servant working as an Executive Engineer in the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited, (‘the petitioner') as the entire process initiated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (‘ACB') is contrary to the law. This is due to no preliminary inquiry being conducted as was necessary, moreover, source information report was prepared in haste without following necessary steps and disproportionate assets being alleged are displayed on the source report as zero. The dates in the present case are of significance.

A crime was registered against one J. Jnanendra Kumar on 15-03-2022 in connection with which the house of one Munavar Pasha was searched as preliminary enquiry conducted by the ACB. While searching the house of Munavar Pasha two travel bags and one carton box, neither belonging to Munavar Pasha nor J. Jnanendra Kumar were found. They allegedly belonged to the petitioner. The ACB immediately prepared a source report, registered an FIR and conducted searches in the house and office of the petitioner on 17-03-2022. The house of the petitioner was searched on the basis of FIR registered on 16-03-2022 for offences punishable under Section 13(1)(b) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 Act (‘PCA, 1988') after drawing up a source information report which also was prepared on 16-03-2022. The proceedings emanating from this FIR form the subject matter of the instant petition.

What is a Source Information Report (‘S.I.R')?

A source information report is a report which forms the basis to charge a public servant with Section 13(1) PCA, 1988 which deals with criminal misconduct, and being in possession of assets disproportionate to his known source of income. Thus, the report in corruption parlance is a source information report. The preparation of S.I.R is the responsible work of a responsible officer i.e., Inspector of Police, under the guidance and supervision of a superior police officer, a Deputy Superintendent of Police and it has to be drawn up after calculating entire period of service of a public servant and arrive at a conclusion albeit, prima facie, that he has amassed wealth disproportionate to his known source of income.

The Court noted that on perusal of the SIR, the column total years of service of the petitioner reads ‘not yet ascertained’. Therefore, the ACB did not even know how many years of service a public servant has put in. The check period which is the most important ingredient of a source information report is left vague by stating ‘from the date of joining service to till date'. Wife's designation, salary particulars, Annual Property Returns (‘APR') etc. are not even looked into. The official income that is petitioner's salary and petitioner's wife's salary read as ‘yet to be ascertained’. The value of total property is mentioned, and the percentage of disproportionate income is zero as it is left completely blank. It is this source information report that becomes a FIR under Section 13(1)(b) and 13(2) PCA, 1988. Section 13(1)(b) PCA, 1988 deals with criminal misconduct against a public servant. The basis being the source information report, it is trite that the report assumes a great significance while imputing allegations of criminal misconduct.

Thus, placing reliance on P. Sirajuddin v. State of Madras, (1970) 1 SCC 595, Lalita Kumari v. Government of UP, (2014) 2 SCC 1 and Charansingh v. State of Maharashtra, (2021) 5 SCC 469, the Court observed that the Anti-Corruption Bureau which performs a very significant role in checking corruption amongst public servants cannot indulge itself in such casual act of drawing up the source information report on the instant, registering the FIR and conducting the search. The entire narration of the allegation which would become criminal misconduct against the petitioner is on the basis of the records found in somebody else's house in connection with someone else's crime. Such a source information report against the petitioner is no report in the eye of law.

The Court concluded that there was no preliminary inquiry worth the name that was even conducted by the ACB in the case of the petitioner as every act of the ACB i.e., preparation of the source information report, registration of FIR and conduct of search on the house of the petitioner have all happened on one single day — 24 hours.

The Court thus held it was a fit case, where “the Court cannot turn a blind eye to the plea of petitioner for exercise of jurisdiction of this Court under Section 482 Criminal Procedure Code and obliterate registration of crime against the petitioner.”

[K R Kumar Naik v. State, WP No. 7911 of 2022, decided on 26-06-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Satish K, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Manmohan PN SPl. PP, Advocate, for State.


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Supreme Court
Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a bail application, after the single judge Bench of Karnataka High Court criticised the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) for their lack of enthusiasm, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, JJ has observed that the alleged involvement of the ADGP, and the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) of the ACB officers are irrelevant and beyond the ambit of bail proceedings.

In the case at hand, allegation have been made against the Deputy Commissioner that when the complainant met him, he instructed to meet his Personal Assistant and when the complainant met the Personal Assistant of the Deputy Commissioner, he demanded an amount of Rs.15 lakhs to pass an order in favour of the complainant by the Deputy Commissioner and the same was bargained for Rs.8 lakhs, Rs.5 lakhs and when the complainant agreed to pay a sum of Rs.3 lakhs, insisted him to pay an amount of Rs.5 lakhs and accordingly, the amount was accepted to pass an order in favour of the complainant. A person who is not an employee of the Deputy Commissioner’s office but works in the Appeal Section is said to have collected the amount as per the instructions of the Personal Assistant of the Deputy Commissioner.

Upon noticing that ACB has not taken any action against the Deputy Commissioner despite being provided with all, H.P. Sandesh, J had, in the impugned order of Karnataka High Court, observed that “the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) is not working for the institution for which he has been appointed that too prevention of corruption for which the said institution is established”.

The High Court noticed that the ACB, only after the Court found the material, arraigned the Deputy Commissioner as accused and arrested him and also conducted the raid on the house of Deputy Commissioner. It directed CBI to place the report in respect of the investigation pertaining to ADGP in the cases pending against him on the next date of hearing.

Justice Sandesh went on to narrate an instance that happened on 01.07.2022 in Chief Justice’s Farewell Dinner. He wrote,

“A Hon’ble sitting Judge came and sat by the side of me and stated that he received a call from Delhi (not disclosed the name) and said that the person who called from Delhi, enquired about me and immediately I replied that I am not affiliated to any political party and the Hon’ble Judge did not stop the same there itself and further said that ADGP is from North India and he is powerful and also gave an instance of transfer of Senior Judge of this Court to some other State and told that for no mistake on his part, he was transferred and chances of one side feeding to them”

As shocking as these revelations were, the Supreme Court, however, observed that the impugned proceedings arose out of a bail application under Section 439 of the Cr.P.C.

“Rather than considering the bail application on its merits, the learned Judge has apparently focused on other elements which may not be relevant and are, in our prima facie view, beyond the scope of inquiry in respect of proceedings under Section 439 of the Cr.P.C.”

Considering that the valuable rights of the accused who seeks enlargement on bail under Section 439 Cr.P.C., should not be adversely affected, the Court stayed the proceedings against the ADGP for not being linked to the pleadings of the accused for bail.

The High Court will continue hear and dispose of the bail application of the said accused, expeditiously, without reference to the pendency of the Special Leave Petitions before the Supreme Court.

[Seemant Kumar Singh v. Mahesh PS, Diary No(s).20525/2022, order dated 18.07.2022]


Counsels

Tushar Mehta, SG, Nikhil Goel, AAG. Shubhranshu Padhi, AOR, Ashish Yadav, Adv, Vishal Banshal, Adv., Rajeshwari Shankar, Adv, Mukul Rohatgi, Sr.Adv., Amit Kumar, Sr.Adv., Avijit Mani Tripathi, AOR, Shaurya Sahya, Adv., Aditya Shanker Pandey, Adv,  S.Nagamuthu, Sr.Adv.,  H.S. Chandramouli, Sr.Adv, Anand Sanjay M.Nuli, Adv., M.P. Parthiban, Adv., Agam Sharma, Adv., Keerthana Nagaraj, Adv., M/S. Nuli & Nuli, AOR

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the Madras High Court had ordered an enquiry and obtained a report without   furnishing a copy thereof to Tamil Nadu Minister SP Velumani in a corruption case and unceremoniously closed the writ petition, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ* and Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, JJ has held that when the State has not pleaded any specific privilege which bars disclosure of material utilized in the earlier preliminary investigation, there is no good reason for the High Court to have permitted the report to have remained shrouded in a sealed cover.

On 11.09.2018, a private complaint was lodged against the appellant alleging that while he was serving as a Cabinet Minister, he misused his powers to influence the tender process and ensured that tenders were awarded to his close aides. Thereafter, a writ petition was filed seeking investigation into the allegations made in the complaint. The Madras High Court directed an enquiry by a responsible officer, Ms. Ponni, Superintendent of Police, Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, who submitted her preliminary enquiry report to the Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, who in turn submitted a final report before the High Court in a sealed cover. In the meanwhile, the Government took a decision to close the case based on the   aforesaid report submitted by the Court appointed officer. Rather than deciding this issue, the High Court adjourned the matter by a month.  However, it appears that due to various reasons, the matter could not be listed until 19.07.21. In the meanwhile, the State Government had changed. In a turn of events, the State Government went back on their earlier stand to close the criminal case. Instead, the State Government submitted before the High Court that they intended to conduct further investigation in the aforesaid matter.

The High Court the High Court neither provided the appellant an opportunity to defend himself, nor sought a reasoned justification from the State for having turned turtle. Surprisingly, it left the decision completely in the hands of the State Government.

The Supreme Court observed that the High Court committed a patent error in not taking the matter to its logical conclusion.

“It was the High Court which had ordered that a preliminary enquiry be conducted and a report be submitted by the special investigating officer. However, once the enquiry was completed, the High Court failed to even peruse the said report. Rather, the High Court left the decision completely in the hands of the State Government. Such an approach, as adopted by the High Court in the present matter, cannot be countenanced in law.”

Observing that the State cannot blow hot and cold at the same time, the Court held that initiation of the FIR in the present case stemmed from the writ proceedings before the High Court, wherein the State has opted to re-examine the issue in contradiction of their own affidavit and the preliminary report submitted earlier before the High Court stating that commission of cognizable offence had not been made out. Hence, in this background the mandate of Section 207 of CrPC cannot be read as a provision etched in stone to cause serious violation of the rights of the appellant-accused as well as to the principles of natural justice.

The Court, hence, directed the High Court to supply a copy of the report submitted by Ms. R. Ponni, Superintendent of Police along with the other documents to the appellant. It also restored the Writ Petition before the High Court.

[SP Velumani v. Arappor Iyakkam, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 663, decided on 20.05.2022]


*Judgment by: CJI NV Ramana


Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In an interesting case relating to corruption, the Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka*, JJ., acquitted a Commercial Tax Officer in spite of proved recovery of tainted currency notes from her. The Bench observed that though the recovery was proved in the absence of demand being conclusively proved conviction cannot be made under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the PC Act.

The prosecution case, in brief, was that the appellant, Commercial Tax Officer demanded a bribe of Rs.3,000 for issuing an assessment order of the Farmers’ Service Co-operative Society for the year 1996-97, where the complainant was acting as a supervisor. Though the complainant showed unwillingness to pay the amount, the demand was reiterated by the appellant for consecutive three days which was later scaled down to Rs. 2000. Consequently, a complaint was filed in the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and accordingly, a trap was laid.

The allegation of the prosecution was that when the complainant tendered the tainted currency notes of Rs.2,000 to the appellant, instead of taking the amount directly, she took out a diary from her table drawer and asked to keep the currency notes in the diary thereafter she locked the diary in the table drawer and kept the key in her handbag. After that, she called ACTO along with the record, signed on the last page of the ledger and cash book by putting the date as 26-02-2000.

Notably, when the trap party entered the office of the appellant, they found a wad of currency notes in the diary, numbers on which tallied with the serial numbers of currency notes described in pre-trap proceedings. The Special Court found that the demand of bribe and acceptance of bribe was proved by the prosecution and convicted the appellant under Sections 7 and 13 (1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The High Court of Telangana had affirmed the said finding.

The appellant had challenged the concurrent findings of the Special Court and High Court contending that the recovery had not been proved and the complainant had deliberately kept the currency notes in the diary lying on her table when she went to the washroom before leaving her office.

Observing that the proof of demand of bribe by a public servant and its acceptance by him is sine quo non for establishing the offence under Section 7 of the PC Act, the Bench opined that as a corollary, failure of the prosecution to prove the demand for illegal gratification would be fatal and mere recovery of the amount from the person accused of the offence under Section 7 or 13 of the Act would not entail his conviction thereunder.

The Bench noted following discrepancies in the evidences submitted by the prosecution:

  1. The society been served with a notice on 15-03-2002 that an exemption had been granted from payment of commercial tax and it was not liable to pay any tax for the year 1996-97 which made the issue of the final assessment order a mere procedural formality and demand of bribe on 23-03-2002 highly doubtful.
  2. The LW8, R.Hari Kishan, was to accompany the complainant at the time of offering the bribe. However, in spite of being instructed only complainant entered the chamber and LW8 waited outside. The prosecution offered no explanation why LW8 did not accompany the complainant inside the chamber of the appellant at the time of the trap.
  3. The complainant’s version was that on his own, he told the appellant that he had brought the amount; further he had himself admitted that his version regarding the demand on various dates was an improvement. There being no other evidence of the alleged demand, the appellant’s version was not reliable.
  4. On 22-03-2000, the appellant had served a memo on PW 4, ACTO pointing out the defaults committed by him in the discharge of his duties, which indicated high probability of him holding grudge against her.

Hence, the Bench concluded that the demand of illegal gratification by the appellant was not conclusively proved by the prosecution. Thus, the demand which is sine quo non for establishing the offence under Section 7 was not established.

Consequently, the appeal was allowed and the conviction of the appellant for the offences punishable under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the PC Act was set aside and the appellant was acquitted of the charges framed against her.

[K. Shanthamma v. State of Telangana, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 213, decided on 21-02-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Abhay S. Oka


Appearance by:

For the Appellant: V. Mohana, Senior Advocate

For the Respondent: Bina Madhavan, Advocate


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: Sanjeev Kumar, J. dismissed a writ petition which claimed promotion and challenged the government order which was made on the basis of serious allegations regarding the disproportionate acquisition of property.

Respondent 2 herein, on a complaint, conducted a secret verification and found that the petitioner had acquired huge assets both movable and immovable, which were disproportionate to his known sources of income. He registered an FIR against the petitioner for the commission of offence under Section 5(1)(e) read with Section 5(2) of the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006. He also wrote a communication to respondent 1 (Administrative Secretary) for initiating departmental action under Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Rules, 1956 against the petitioner. Respondent 1 by passing an order attaching petitioner with the Chief Engineer, PHE Kashmir. Petitioner was Superintending Engineer in a hydraulic circle, Kargil. He claimed that due to his seniority he was likely to be promoted to the post of Chief Engineer. Aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner challenged both the aforesaid communication as well as government order by way of this petition.

Petitioner claimed that the impugned communication issued by respondent 2 and the impugned government order by Administrative Secretary was illegal, arbitrary, mala fide and without any authority of law; and the same could not be sustained in law as they were not traceable to any provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Rules, 1956. He also contended that no employee can be penalized only on the ground that an FIR for his misconduct was registered with the police or Anti-Corruption Bureau and pleaded that the impugned communication and order were only aimed to denude him from his right to seek promotion to the post of Chief Engineer. Respondent 1 denied the allegations of arbitrariness and mala fide and objected the writ petition on the ground that the impugned government order was fully justified as the allegation against the petitioner was serious and disproportionate to his known sources of income. He also claimed that the petitioner had been attached with the Chief Engineer not only because an FIR regarding his misconduct was pending investigation before respondent 2 but also because a full-fledged departmental enquiry against him was contemplated.

Court held that the department was competent to hold a departmental enquiry solely on the basis of the allegations made against an employee and this power of the employer was independent of the power of the police and the Anti Corruption Bureau to register FIR and investigate the allegations. The delinquent employee may be acquitted by the Court of law on finding that the prosecution could not prove his guilt, but he can be penalized in the disciplinary proceedings, which were decided on the basis of preponderance of probabilities. The Court also observed that as per Section 31 of Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Rules, 1956 he could also be suspended, if the complaint against him of any criminal offence was under investigation or trial. Hence, respondent 1 had shown leniency and instead of suspending him had only attached him with the Chief Engineer. Therefore, it could not be said that the order by respondent 1 was without jurisdiction or without any sanction of law. Thus, the petition was dismissed for being devoid of merit.[Sarwan Singh v. State of J&K, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 518, decided on 07-06-2019]

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of A.M. Babu and V. Chitambaresh, JJ. allowed a petition preferred by the State against the order of Administrative Tribunal granting disbursal of full retirement benefits to an employee who had a criminal case pending against him.

Respondent herein, an Additional Tahsildar, was suspended on 26-11-2014 in connection with a vigilance trap case following his arrest and detention. He was reinstated on 28-09-2015, and he retired from service as Senior Superintendent on 30-11-2015 while the final report in vigilance case was filed on 27-12-2016. He pleaded for disbursement of full retiral benefits on the ground that cognizance of the criminal case was taken after the date of his retirement. The same was allowed by the Administrative Tribunal. Aggrieved thereby, the State preferred this petition.

Senior Government Pleader Mr T. Rajasekharan Nair contended that departmental proceedings commenced after the order of suspension. Therefore, the rigour of Rule 3A of Part III of the Kerala Service Rules was applicable which enabled the government to pay only provisional pension to the respondent and withhold his gratuity until the conclusion of the proceedings.

The Court agreed with the aforesaid contention and noted that the criminal case filed by Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau was still pending on the file of Vigilance Court, and the respondent had not yet been given a clean chit. Whether there was any part of the pension still to be recovered was a matter to be considered after the verdict.

Petitioner had already disbursed death-cum-retirement gratuity to respondent, even though it was not obliged to do so under the Kerala Service Rules. Thus, it was held that payment of provisional pension to the respondent at this stage could not be faulted with and the Tribunal was not justified in directing disbursement of entire benefits.[State of Kerala v. Sugunan V., 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1024, Order dated 15-03-2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: CJI Ranjan Gogoi has said that the Court will look into the plea of the Government of NCT of Delhi has sought constitution of a larger bench to expeditiously decide the issue of who controls the services in Delhi.

The bench of Dr. AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ had, on February 14, put an end to ‘almost’ all the issues related to the powers exercisable by and functions of the elected Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) vis-a-vis the Central Government. However, the judges differed on the question relating to ‘Service matters’.

While both the judges agreed that Entry 41 of List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution is not available to the Delhi Legislative Assembly as Entry 41 of List II deals with ‘State Public Services’ and ‘State Public Service Commission’ and that State Public Service Commission does not exist in NCTD, they differed on the issue of power to transfer and appoint certain officers.

Justice Sikri Justice Bhushan
The transfers and postings of Secretaries, HODs and other officers in the scale of Joint Secretary to the Government of India and above can be done by the Lieutenant Governor and the file submitted to him directly. For other levels, including DANICS officers, the files can be routed through the Chief Minister to Lieutenant Governor. In case of difference of opinion between the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister, the view of the Lieutenant Governor should prevail and the Ministry of Home Affairs can issue a suitable notification in this regard. I having held that Entry 41 of List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution is not available to the Legislative Assembly of GNCTD, there is no occasion to exercise any Executive power with regard to “Services” by the GNCTD, since the Executive power of the GNCTD as per Article 239AA(4) extend in relation to matters with respect to which Legislative Assembly has power to make laws. With regard to “Services” GNCTD can exercise only those Executive powers, which can be exercised by it under any law framed by the Parliament or it may exercise those Executive powers, which have been delegated to it.

To read the full report report on February 14 verdict, click here.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Dr. AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ has put an end to ‘almost’ all the issues related to the powers exercisable by and functions of the elected Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) vis-a-vis the Central Government.

Difference on opinion on issue relating to ‘service’ matters:

While both the judges agreed that Entry 41 of List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution is not available to the Delhi Legislative Assembly as Entry 41 of List II deals with ‘State Public Services’ and ‘State Public Service Commission’ and that State Public Service Commission does not exist in NCTD, they differed on the issue of power to transfer and appoint certain officers.

 

 

Justice Sikri

 

Justice Bhushan

The transfers and postings of Secretaries, HODs and other officers in the scale of Joint Secretary to the Government of India and above can be done by the Lieutenant Governor and the file submitted to him directly. For other levels, including DANICS officers, the files can be routed through the Chief Minister to Lieutenant Governor. In case of difference of opinion between the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister, the view of the Lieutenant Governor should prevail and the Ministry of Home Affairs can issue a suitable notification in this regard.

I having held that Entry 41 of List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution is not available to the Legislative Assembly of GNCTD, there is no occasion to exercise any Executive power with regard to “Services” by the GNCTD, since the Executive power of the GNCTD as per Article 239AA(4) extend in relation to matters with respect to which Legislative Assembly has power to make laws. With regard to “Services” GNCTD can exercise only those Executive powers, which can be exercised by it under any law framed by the Parliament or it may exercise those Executive powers, which have been delegated to it.

 

In the light of the aforementioned difference of opinion, a larger bench will be deciding the issue.

Concurrent opinions of the judges on other issues at a glance:

Setting up of Anti-Corruption Bureau Police Station

Centre

Setting up of Commission of Inquiry

Centre

Power to pass orders under Delhi Electricity Reforms Act, 2011 and Delhi Electricity Reforms (Transfer Schemes) Rules, 2001 appointing the nominee Directors on the Board of Electricity Distribution Companies

GNCTD

Power to revise the minimum rates of Agricultural Land (Circle Rates) under the provisions of Indian Stamp Act, 1899

GNCTD

However, the LG is also empowered to form its opinion ‘on any matter’ which may be different from the decision taken by his Ministers. In such circumstances, LG is supposed to refer the matter to the President for decision and act according to the decision given thereon by the President.

Appointment of Public Prosecutors under Section 24 of the Code of Criminal Procedure

GNCTD

 

Also read the related 5-judge Constitution Bench judgement that held that NCT of Delhi is not a State and Lt. Governor of Delhi is not an administrator.

[Govt. of NCT of Delhi v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 193, decided on 14.02.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Ranjan Gogoi and R. Banumathi, JJ. reversed the decision of the Gujarat High Court which had acquitted the accused of the charges under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The accused were working in the Non-Agriculture Department. The complainant was a businessman who wanted to start a new firm. Permission for non-agricultural use of the land was sought from the Department. The accused were alleged to have demanded bribe for expediting the process. Rs 500 were paid to the Accused 1 through Accused 2, who was caught red-handed in the trap laid by the ACB. They were tried for the offences punishable under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Act. The trial court convicted the accused and sentenced them accordingly. However, on appeal, the High Court acquitted the accused holding that the case was not proved against the accused. Aggrieved by this decision, the State preferred the instant appeal.

At the outset, the Supreme Court observed that to prove the offence of bribe, the demand and acceptance of illegal gratification was sine qua non. On the facts of the case, the Court found that statements of PWs 1 and 2 along with the recovery of bribe amount after following proper procedure by the ACB, proved the case against the accused. Further, it was observed that the presumption against the accused under Section 20 is a rebuttable one and the degree of proof is the preponderance of probabilities. However, in the present case, the accused were not able to give any explanation to rebut that presumption. In such circumstances, the Supreme Court was of the opinion that the High Court ought not to interfere with the decision of the trial court that suffered from no infirmity. Hence, the impugned judgment of the Gujarat High Court was set aside and that of the trial court was reaffirmed. However, considering that the matter was almost 27 years old, the sentence of the accused was reduced from 2 years to 1 year. [State of Gujarat v. Navinbhai Chandrakant Joshi,2018 SCC OnLine SC 699, dated 17-07-2018]