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Supreme Court declines relief to sanitation worker convicted on corruption charges

The case against the appellant was that he had taken illegal gratification from the complainant in lieu of some work.

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ILNS: The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to give any relief to a sanitation worker convicted for taking illegal gratification from a complainant for revoking his suspension order and regularization of the quarter occupied by him. (Moti Lal Sharma v. State through CBI)

A two-judge bench of Justice Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari said, “We are not inclined to interfere with the impugned order and judgment passed by the High Court. The special leave petition is dismissed.”

It further said, “If the petitioner has not surrendered as yet, he is directed to do so within two weeks, failing which, he shall be taken into custody immediately.”

During the course of the hearing, Justice Navin Sinha asked Counsel of the Appellant, “Please show us where did you cross examine with regard to demand and acceptance? Concerning the statement of PW-5 ,PW4 , both corroborate each other , you did not ask any question with regard to demand and acceptance?”

Counsel for appellant said that PW2 (Prosecution Witness) making revelation about the recovery, meanwhile, Judge intervene and put up another question for the Counsel i.e. where did you put question that no such recovery has been done, to which counsel replied that no such question was asked from him.

Justice Navin further said, “you have also not annexed deposition of PW-4, to which counsel replied ‘your lordship, everything happened in CBI office.”

The case against the appellant was that he had taken illegal gratification from the complainant in lieu of some work. Prosecution Witness no. 5 is the complainant in the case, he had submitted a complaint to the CBI alleging that the appellant who was the Sanitary Jamadar/ Dhowra Supervisor, B.C.C.L, Dhanbad demanded illegal gratification of Rs.1,300/- from him for revoking his suspension order and regularization of the quarter occupied by him. The CBI during inquiry found allegation to be true and on the basis of the same, F.I.R. connected with the same was registered. A trap was laid and the appellant-convict was caught red-handed while accepting the bribe. The sanction for the prosecution of the appellant-convict was obtained and after completion of the investigation, the charge-sheet was submitted against the appellant.

The appeal before the Jharkhand High Court was filed against the judgment of the Trial Court which had convicted the appellant guilty for having committed the offences punishable under Section 7 and Section 13(2) read with Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and sentenced him to undergo Rigorous Imprisonment for three years for the offence punishable under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and imposed fine of Rs.15,000/- and further convicted the appellant-convict under Section 13(2) read with Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act to undergo Rigorous Imprisonment of three years and fine of Rs.15,000/- and in default of payment of fine to undergo Simple Imprisonment of six months and it was ordered that both the sentences shall run concurrently.

The High Court had noted in its order that, “keeping in view the fact that the bribe has become a malady now-a-days and it is a danger to the governance, hence, it has to be dealt with heavy hands to give a deterrence message to the society, hence, the sentence in this case also appears to be proper in the facts and circumstances of the case. Accordingly, the sentence of the appellant is also confirmed. Therefore, this appeal, being without any merit is dismissed.”

The High Court had further noted, “Perusal of the record reveals that the appellant is on bail and in view of the dismissal of the appeal, the bail granted to the appellant is cancelled and the appellant is directed to surrender before the court below forthwith to undergo the sentence failing which, the trial court is directed to take all coercive steps against the appellant- convict for undergoing the sentence.”

The learned single-judge of High court found the testimony of PW-3 and PW5 to be unimpeachable and held that

“So far as the judgments of Suraj Mal as well as G. V. Nanjundiah (supra) are concerned, it is a settled principle of law that without any evidence of demand of the bribe by an accused person in a case, a conviction cannot ensue because the reason being there has to be some evidence in the record to suggest that the appellant-convict was aware that the money accepted by him, was on account of bribe but here in this case, there is categorical evidence of P.W.3 and also P.W.5 that the appellant-convict demanded the money and told that he will do the work of P.W.5 and then only P.W.5 gave him the money which he kept in his right pocket which was later recovered by P.W.2 on being told by the C.B.I officials. The high court cancelled the bail of appellant and affirm the judgment and order of trial court.

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The High Court had also noted, “So far as the contention regarding the anomaly in the washing of the right hand or the pant of the appellant-convict is concerned, it is a settled principle of law that it is not an essential requirement of law that the hands or wearing apparel of an accused is to be washed in Sodium Carbonate solution but that is done as abandoned caution by the trap team to rule out any error and it is also a settled principle of law that if otherwise the evidence put forth by the prosecution is sufficient to establish the three ingredients being the demand of bribe by the accused person, acceptance of bribe by the accused person and recovery of bribe from the accused person, even if washing of hands in Sodium Carbonate is not done, still a conviction can be recorded. In this case as already discussed above, the evidence in the record is sufficient to establish all the three ingredients being the demand of bribe by the accused person, acceptance of bribe by the accused person and recovery of bribe from the accused person, hence, this Court is of the considered view that the learned court below has rightly convicted the appellant- convict for the offences punishable under Section 7 and Section 13 (2) read with section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Hence, the conviction of the appellant–convict is confirmed.” 

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