18 October 2020

The proof of demand is an indispensable essentiality to prove the offence under The Prevention of Corruption Act

In the light of the serious discrepancies in the evidence of the prosecution, the accused is entitled for benefit of doubt. The demand of bribe is not established by clinching evidence. Acceptance of bribe suffers from serious doubt. In Sujit Biswas Vs. State of Assam, it was held that Suspicion, however grave it may be, cannot take the place of proof and the prosecution cannot aford to rests its case in the realm "may be" true but has to upgrade it in the domain of "may be", in order to steer clear of any possible surmise or conjuncture. Court must ensure that miscarriage of justice are avoided and if in the facts and circumstances, two views are possible then, the benefit of doubt must be given to the accused. Applying the legal principle as above, the material on record, leave note manner of doubt that the prosecution in the present case, has failed to prove unequivocally the demand of illegal gratification and even its acceptance. In the case of P.Satyanarayna Murthy Vs. District Inspector of Police, State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr. It was held that the proof of demand of illegal gratification is gravamen of offence under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d)(i) and (ii) of the P.C. Act and in the absence thereof mistakenly the charge therefore, would fail. Mere acceptance of any amount by way of illegal gratification or recovery thereof, dehors the proof of demand, ipso facto, would not be sufficient to prove home the charge under these sections of the Act.
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 Sections 7 or 13 of the Act would not entail his conviction thereunder. In the case of B. Jayaraj v. State of Andhra Pradesh. It was held that the presumption under Section 20 of the P.C. Act can be drawn on proof of acceptance of illegal gratification was received for doing or forbearing to do any oficial act. Proof of acceptance of illegal gratification can follow only if there is proof of demand. In catena of decisions, the Apex Court has held that mere possession of recovery of currency note from an accused without proof of demand would not establish an offence under Section 7 as well as Section 13(1)(d), 13(2) of the P.C. Act. It has been propounded that in absence of proof of demand of any illegal gratification, the use of corrupt or illegal means or abuse of position as a public servant to obtain any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage, cannot be held to be proved. The proof of demand has been held to be an indispensable essentiality to prove the offence. In the present case, the demand as well as acceptance is under shadow of doubt and has not been established beyond reasonable doubt. 31 Considering the discrepancies in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses, I find that the evidence adduced against the accused by prosecution suffers from doubt. In the circumstances, the evidence relating to demand and acceptance cannot be believed. The accused is entitled for benefit of doubt and deserves to be acquitted.[Para No.30]

Bombay High Court

Pratap Mahadev Moon
Union Of India

Decided on 16/10/2020

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