Demand and acceptance of gratification must be proved for an offence under s.7, Prevention of Corruption Act

Gauhati High Court: A criminal appeal filed under Section 374 of CrPC was decided by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Hitesh Kumar Sarma, J., wherein the order of conviction passed against the appellant-accused by the CBI Court was set aside, holding that the essential ingredients of Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was not proved.

The appellant- Superintendent in the office of Divisional Electrical Engineer- was accused of taking bribe from the complainant- a registered railway contractor, for issuance of ‘No Loss Certificate’ and giving advance information regarding future requirements. On receipt of the said complaint, CBI laid a trap in which the appellant was found to have taken Rs. 1000 as a bribe.

The High Court, in order to decide the appeal, perused the entire evidence and discussed the law on the subject. It observed that to constitute an offence under Section 7 of the PC Act, two essential ingredients are required to be established by the prosecution. The first is demand of gratification in consideration of doing some favor, and secondly, acceptance of gratification by the person, who demanded. The Court found that the complainant himself gave one version in his examination-in-chief and then another one in his cross- examination after being declared hostile by the prosecution. In his examination-in-chief, he has claimed that no demand was made to him by the accused-appellant; rather, he absolved the accused-appellant while he deposed that the accused-appellant demanded the amount from him which he owed to him. But in the cross-examination, he admitted that there was demand. The evidence of the complainant appeared to be doubtful as he shifted one version to the other in the same breathe. That being so, the Court held that the evidence of the complainant could not be relied upon being doubtful as he was contradicting his own versions and failed to withstand the test of credibility.

Hence, the impugned order of the CBI Court convicting the appellant was found liable to be set aside, and was ordered accordingly. [Puspa Nath v. CBI, 2018 SCC OnLine Gau 38, order dated 01-02-2018]

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