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Supreme Court declines to hear appeal filed by man for suspension of sentence and grant of bail in corruption case

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The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal filed by a man challenging the dismissal of his plea by the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking suspension of sentence and grant of bail in connection with a case wherein he was convicted and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 5 years under the Prevention of Corruption Act. 

Advocate Nipun Saxena, the counsel for the petitioner, submitted before the bench that he has already undergone 9 months of the 5-year period of sentence. Further, there is no recovery made from him and there was no demand of money. Even the complainant has turned hostile.

The Supreme Court bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice C.T. Ravikumar noted that the present matter has already been admitted to the High Court.

“We request the High Court to expeditiously dispose of the criminal appeal as the petitioner has already undergone over 9 months of sentence period out of 5 years, as Supreme Court expedited case,” observed the bench in its order. 

The Apex Court further noted in its order that if the appeal against conviction could not be decided by the end of June 2022, it would be open to the petitioner to renew his request for bail before the High Court. 

The Court has also accepted the request made by the learned counsel for the petitioner that his sister is getting married on 15.01.2022 and therefore he may be granted parole during the period. The Top Court has noted in its order, “It will be open to the petitioner to apply for parole for the relevant period and if that request is denied by the appropriate authority, it will be open to the petitioner to approach the High Court for appropriate relief, as may be advised.”

Background of the Case

The petitioner was convicted under Section 7 & 13(1)(D) r/w Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and sentenced to 3 years of rigorous imprisonment and 5 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5000 & 7000 respectively. He had challenged his conviction and order on sentence before the Madhya Pradesh High Court. 

The high court noted, “The counsel for the appellant submitted that the complainant has turned hostile. Due explanation has been given about the presence of phenolphthalein on the fingers of the appellant. The Trial Court failed to see that nothing was pending before the appellant to provide motive for demand of money. The hearing of this appeal is likely to take sufficiently long time and the appellant is ready and willing to appear before the Registry of this Court as and when required.”

The grounds of appeal were opposed by the counsel for the respondent stating that though the complainant has turned hostile but in light of the SC judgement, Hazari Lal vs. State (Delhi Administration) reported in (1980) 2 SCC 390, an accused can be convicted with the help of surrounding evidence. He argued, “Even the evidence of the police personnel can be relied upon. When the fingers of the appellant were dipped in the solution, then the colour had changed which clearly indicates that the appellant had come in contact with the tainted currency notes. Further, it is incorrect to say that nothing was pending before the appellant to demand and accept the money.”

The High Court after taking all facts in due consideration rejected the application of the petitioner for suspension of sentence and grant of bail. The high court had granted liberty to the appellant to revive the prayer for bail after undergoing half of the jail sentence.

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