Mere recovery of bribe would not prove charges against the accused

Supreme Court: While deciding a criminal appeal preferred against the judgment of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, a Bench comprising of Amitava, J., set aside the judgment and order of the High Court which had convicted a police officer of taking bribes. The appellant (now deceased and represented by legal heirs) was a Station House Officer at a Police Station. He was accused of taking a bribe from the respondent and complaint for the same was filed with the DSP. The DSP, Chandigarh had laid down a trap to catch the appellant red handed and eventually the trap was claimed to be a success by the respondents. They filed a case against him in trial court and the appellant was held liable under Sections 7 and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Aggrieved by the decision, the appellant filed an appeal in the High Court, which affirmed the decision of trial court. During the pendency of the case the appellant died and the case was then represented by his legal representative. Aggrieved by the order of High Court a criminal appeal was filed.

The learned counsel on behalf of appellant argued that the evidence on record was visibly deficient to prove the demand, receipt and recovery of any amount of illegal gratification as alleged and if the conviction was allowed it would be a gross travesty of justice. The counsel referred to P. Satyanarayan Murthy v. District Inspector Of Police, State of Andhra Pradesh, (2015) 10 SCC 152   and submitted that mere recovery by itself of the amount said to have been paid by way of illegal gratification would not prove the charges against the accused and in absence of any evidence to prove payment of bribe or to show that the accused had voluntarily accepted the money knowing it to be bribe, the conviction cannot be sustained.

The Court after examining the facts allowed the appeal and the judgment and order of the High Court affirming the decision of the trial court was set aside. [Mukhtiar Singh v. State of Punjab, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 742, decided on 14.07.2017]

 

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