Court to Presume Offence of Accepting Bribe if no Explanation for Possessing Bribe Money is Given

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2696

July 18, 2018

Case name: State of Gujrat v. Navinbhai Chandrakant Joshi Etc.

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Date of Judgment: July 17, 2018

In the case, the Apex Court with reference to the offence of bribery has held that if the accused  possessing the bribe money, fail to offer any satisfactory explanation, then it will be presumed that he has accepted the bribe.

In the case at hand, the accused no. 1 was working as a Junior Clerk in Non-Agriculture Department and accused No. 2was also working in the same department. The Complainant (PW1) in the case has alleged that for some office work had demanded Rs.1,000/- for expediting the matter and ultimately it was settled for Rs.500/-. Subsequently, a trap was arranged and on showing pre-arranged signal, the police arrived and currency notes were seized from accused No.2.

The Trial Court convicted both accused under Section 7 of Prevention of Corruption Act and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Aggrieved by Trial Court’s order, the accused approached the High Court which acquitted on the ground that there was no recovery of money from accused No.1 and that accused No.2-Navinbhai had no idea for what purpose the money was given to accused No.1.

Section 7 of Prevention of Corruption Act provides for the offence of public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration and Section 13 of the Act provides for the offence of criminal misconduct by public servant and states that  a public servant commits criminal misconduct if he or any person on his behalf, is in possession or has been in possession for which the public servant cannot satisfactorily account, of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The State has appealed against the aforesaid judgment of the High Court before the Supreme Court. The Two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court while setting aside High Court’s order made the following observations in the case:

  • That it is well-settled that to establish the offence under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, particularly those relating to the trap cases, the prosecution has to establish the existence of demand as well as acceptance by the public servant[1].
  • That for presumption raised under Section 20 of the Act for the offence under Section 7 of the Act, it is settled law that the presumption raised under Section 20 of the Act is a rebuttable presumption, and that the burden placed on the appellant for rebutting the presumption is one of preponderance of probabilities[2].
  • With reference to the facts of the present case, the Apex Court opined that as the accused were possessing the bribe money, it was for them to explain that how the bribe money has been received by them and if they fail to offer any satisfactory explanation, it will be presumed that he has accepted the bribe.
  • The Court observed that the accused have not offered any explanation to rebut the presumption under Section 20 of the Act.
  • The Supreme Court also opined that when the findings recorded by the trial court was based upon appreciation of evidence, the High Court was not right in reversing the judgment of the trial court.

Thus, in view of the aforesaid, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the accused under Section 7 and Section 13(1)(d) of the Act.

The entire case can be accessed here.

[1] B. Jayaraj v. State of A.P.

[2] .M. Girish Babu v. C.B.I. Cochin, High Court of Kerala (2009) 3 SCC 779