P. Satyanarayana Murthy vs. Dist. Inspector of Police (Supreme Court)

CORAM: , ,
DATE: September 14, 2015 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: September 17, 2015 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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Acche Din For Corrupt Babus: Mere possession and recovery of currency notes from an accused is not sufficient to establish an offense under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Proof of demand of illegal gratification is essential. Its absence is fatal to the complaint

Rs. 3.8 crore was found in cash from a Rajasthan’s mines department official

The prosecution claimed that a complaint was lodged against the accused (then the Assistant Director, Commissionerate of Technical Education), that he demanded illegal gratification Rs. 1000 for renewing of the recognition of the complainant’s typing institute. A trap was laid pursuant to which phenolphthalein powder was applied on currency notes which were handed over by the complainant to the accused. The accused was intercepted and apprehended with the money in his hands. The currency notes tallied with those which had been decided to be used in the trap operation. The fingers of the hands of the accused, when dipped in the sodium carbonate solution, also turned pink. The pocket of the shirt of the accused also turned pink when rinsed in sodium carbonate solution. The trail court and the High Court convicted the accused. Before the Supreme Court the accused claimed that even assuming without admitting that the recovery of the tainted notes from the appellant had been established, sans the proof of demand which is a sine qua non for an offence both under Sections 7 and 13 of the Act, the appellant’s conviction is unsustainable. HELD by the Supreme Court allowing the appeal:

(i) The statutory prescription of Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 is that the prosecution has to prove the charge there under beyond reasonable doubt like any other criminal offence and that the accused should be considered to be innocent till it is established otherwise by proper proof of demand and acceptance of illegal gratification, which are vital ingredients necessary to be proved to record a conviction. The mere recovery by itself, would not prove the charge 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, conviction cannot be sustained.

(ii) Mere possession and recovery of currency notes from an accused without proof of demand would not establish an offence under Sections 7 as well as 13(1)(d)(i)&(ii) of the Act. In the absence of any proof of demand for illegal gratification, the use of corrupt or illegal means or abuse of position as a public servant to obtain any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage cannot be held to be proved. The proof of demand is an indispensable essentiality and of permeating mandate for an offence under Sections 7 and 13 of the Act. Qua Section 20 of the Act, which permits a presumption as envisaged therein, it has been held that while it is extendable only to an offence under Section 7 and not to those under Section 13(1)(d) (i)&(ii) of the Act, it is contingent as well on the proof of acceptance of illegal gratification for doing or forbearing to do any official act. Such proof of acceptance of illegal gratification, it was emphasized, could follow only if there was proof of demand. Axiomatically, in absence of proof of demand, such legal presumption under Section 20 of the Act would also not arise.

(iii) The proof of demand of illegal gratification, thus, is the gravamen of the offence under Sections 7 and 13(1) (d)(i)&(ii) of the Act and in absence thereof, unmistakably the charge therefor, would fail. Mere acceptance of any amount allegedly by way of illegal gratification or recovery thereof, dehors the proof of demand, ipso facto, would thus not be sufficient to bring home the charge under these two sections of the Act.

(iv) As a corollary, failure of the prosecution to prove the demand for illegal gratification would be fatal and mere recovery of the amount from the person accused of the offence under Sections 7 or 13 of the Act would not entail his conviction thereunder.

(v) On facts, qua the aspect of demand, when the complainant did hand over to the appellant the renewal application, the latter enquired from the complainant as to whether he had brought the amount which he directed him to bring on the previous day, whereupon the complainant took out Rs. 500/- from the pocket of his shirt and handed over the same to the appellant. Though, a very spirited endeavour has been made by the learned counsel for the State to co-relate this statement of PW1- S to the attendant facts and circumstances including the recovery of this amount from the possession of the appellant by the trap team, identification of the currency notes used in the trap operation and also the chemical reaction of the sodium carbonate solution qua the appellant, we are left unpersuaded to return a finding that the prosecution in the instant case has been able to prove the factum of demand beyond reasonable doubt. Even if the evidence of PW1- S. Udaya Bhaskar is accepted on the face value, it falls short of the quality and decisiveness of the proof of demand of illegal gratification as enjoined by law to hold that the offence under Section 7 or 13(1)(d)(i)&(ii) of the Act has been proved (A. Subair vs. State of Kerala (2009)6 SCC 587 and State of Kerala and another vs. C.P. Rao (2011) 6 SCC 450 followed)

12 comments on “P. Satyanarayana Murthy vs. Dist. Inspector of Police (Supreme Court)
  1. i see the prevention of corruption Act is interestingly crafted Act, by the law makers.

    i wonder how the ACB is not aware of the provision s.13(1)(d)i & ii. what kind of anti corruption operation.

    one needs to understand governments are really promoting corruption is a great fact under a facade of so called Acts, just to hood wink the public and fooling the voters,

    this practice is going on as acche din for politicians, public servants.

    if any one wants to implicate a public servant need to ensure that the said public servant would be has right royally demanded the bribe, if not really in real terms is not demanded, do not pay the bribe, is the lesson.

    kudos to the constitution bench.

    now the said affected officer can proceed on liquidated damages under very IPC 499 r/w 500 r/w 506 on the relevant home ministry as the officer arresting this man is protected under vicarious liability

  2. bobjee kurien says:

    Looks as though people are interested to let go persons involved in acts of corruption .they apparently take the role of God to dispense justice . Perhaps in this case the amount of bribe that was taken was a mere 500 and for this to be decided took a long long time . there are cases of the courts for a mere Rs 10 peons were dismissed from service.In this case just because the complainant died the person was saved .peole in power are capableof twisting things beyond recognition ,should it take time to convict people .

  3. CA Anant Pai says:

    The sections referred in the decision per se speak of accepting a gratification and not demanding. The decision is unfortunate

  4. Veeramani Aiyar says:

    The recent order by the Secretary, DOPT to retire all those officers whose integrity is questionable, who is lethargic was welcome aid in weeding out the corrupt. Sec.56J is to be amended if this provision was to be effectively used so that the age limit should be reduced from 50 to 35. The large scale promotion of officers to the rank of Joint Commissioner and Commissioner has made it imperative to do so. One will appreciate the direction of DOPT should be applicable more to the Income-tax Deprtment. Will the FM act?

  5. Bhagwanji Waghela says:

    Amend Prevention of Corruption Act ; raise a Presumption that excess / disproportionate assets found will be presumed to be out of corrupt practices. Shift the Burden on the Accused to prove otherwise.

  6. Act of God kind clauses in insurance contracts are found, the insuring communities need desist to insure, likr 8 million americans have no insurance, naturally that situation make insurance companies on their own remove the so called ‘Act of God’ clause ideas would die a natural death, as the courts today seem to be not inclined to use doctrine of severability on such kind of insurance and other contracts for courts seem to be very faithful to meaningless statutes of the so called governments in power, when they as governments use inappropriate clauses in their statutes, why courts need to be faithful to government statutes is a very big question before me? so i openly advice people not to take insurance if the insurance clauses contain so called act of god clauses.

  7. corruption is ruling the head of people, the person falls into ‘kshetrajna'(micro) factor called conscious souls, in the universal micro called earth; and only unconscious natured person comes under ‘kshetra’. that way Lord Krishna calls …

    ‘The Supreme Ishwara’ , the personal Lord of the universe….;

    He the Ishwara is – the life energy and form – in every and lower (apara) aspects, and rules every being.

    The universal Being of God includes the totality of unconscious (Kshetra);

    in His lower nature and the totality of the ‘conscious'(kshetrajnya) – (microcosm) in His higher too.

    Here we can visualize how a man is falling a prey to kshetrajna (microcosm).

    That leads one into corrupt thoughts;

    the problem with the police cop is he wants more money they can he manage with, that only causes to hoarding cash, that cash is no better than ‘ash’;

    that proved a lot of cash is located in his house, but the law here is that he should have demanded but it indicates, people pay on their own to these cops as a matter of speed money, that shows how every man who is giving to cops is equally corrupt, that is the problem today under ‘kshetrajna’, i.e., microcosm, that means every micro aspect is contrary to macro concepts, macro is kshetra.

    that means macrocosm is against microcosm.

    that way the laws are made both individually for macrocosm and microcosm, that only creates the chasm in the thoughts, that is the cause of all problems of the world.

    but problem is courts work on statutes without judicial review on issues, if judicial review is done then section 13(1)(d)ii could be severed under doctrine of severability!.

    problem is constitution custodians how custodians might one question.

    Fact is microcosm rules the mind conscious (kshetrajna) as against that unconscious (Kshetra).

    that way another view is possible.so law totters when so corrupt will thrive everywhere, per gitagjyana!

  8. In Kumarasambhava I.59 Kalidasa says ‘those whose minds are not disturbed when the sources of disturbances are present, are the truly brave’, see this inspector is indeed mentally disturbed, so his moved supreme court, trying to take refuge under sec 13(1)(d)i&ii, when he could not account how he got 3.8 crores cash, as there is none reported that they or he were/was demanded is indeed a clear case of corruption at both ends is positive indeed, the PCA is a devious Act to protect all bad elements in governance right from law makers, law and order personnel, so also people want fast clearances, that way every single one in this circle is a micro (kshetriajyani) (consciously involved), that way so many conflicts with macro rule of law called the constitution of india which is adequately supreme even over supreme court justices whatever you choose to call them, they are indeed not lords over constitution of india, so every governmental power, that way another circle of micros before macro rule of law, here we see, that every one is in his shell of confident consciousness (kshetriyajani), that way all are locked in their own shells, trying to take refuge under some so called blessed statute, right from prosecutor,here,(understand please one thing i do not say what the three member bench delivered is utterly wrong, but i say they hold themselves inside the so called provisions accepted by the courts,) saying that what i say is a larger aspect of legal philosophy, the prosecutor did not move a writ instead of appeal in the matter before supreme court, no doubt even under the SLP question of law is only tackled not the facts… that way the sec 13(1)(d)i&ii is used by the defense, nothing wrong, under narrow vision, indeed, court recognizes this fact of law instead of going into deep normal grounds of real facts, when the SLP is discussing only legal aspects, the constitutional bench could have raised the question certainly why the people paid did not come forward to say that they paid this inspector, after all the sums are not negligible to be treated as some ‘bukshis'(some gratis, paid to lower grade servants by the people who are satisfied with their right royal normal duties efficiently or effectively to ensure the issues involved moved in due time without undue delay), the court could have asked the prosecutor investigate what matters passed through this inspector that way the prosecutor laid his hands on people who are those ‘nobodies’ and could have investigated what their cases were whether did they get their issues are settled under right dispensation or some ‘leverages’ and thus could have laid the long arm of law and order on the issues under right laws that were applied on their individual issues.

    such kind of investigating is to be recommended, so that even some disreputable could be apprehended, that could mean none in future would approach a cop for most favored treatment, after all justice delivery system is to ensure future such instances are sealed for ever, but if court judgements do not ensure such plugs on such high level corruptions what great services could be rendered by the honorable courts is the pertinent question is raised here(at least future courts would note right minded citizens would not hesitate to question courts too, after all judges too are accountable to citizens, though not to politician law makers, as no sane citizen would ask judges to be accountable to politicians as these politicians are specially christened as ‘politicians’ by virtue of election process, that clearly says these law makers are indeed much more accountable to courts as also to the electorate in any democracy, else it would be a mockery of democracy.

    what i drive at, here is, that the justice is not to be blind to very high corruption, as such; if allowed higher acceleration of corruption would be on cards, that have to be mitigated or arrested in possible ways as possible ,as possibly worked out by the justice delivery system that we have so many tires of judiciary, else why do we need these many tires, certainly not to fill the pockets of advocates, i believe.

    so the question still open is to arrest corruption at all levels, if not it is like a ship if it’s deck leaks if not right away is plugged the possibility of ship sinking is probable like how ship Titan sank, a nation is like a ship on the oceans of all kinds of avalanches, icebergs, and the like.

    So Blessed Lord said in Gita, in sloka ch.11. 55, ‘when a man puts away all his desires of his mind…and when his spirit is content in itself, then he is called stable in intelligence…such kind of intelligent people every Nation needs is my submission here,

    here i do not decry the judges but i expect better work like Sun god who every morning rises in the east and sets in the west untiringly y=that way i expect our public servants need to be, so that real enshrinable men would take care of the Nation , not to degenerate into some kind of debris, the opportunities to become debris is always there every hour why every minute in public services, that need to be jealously guarded against is my thinking, hope it is not a wishful think, as in think we are supposed to increase more and more intelligent people not clever and crafty to fill the public services.

    British days realized one thing there is no point to stop corrupt men but make them pay income tax on ill gotten wealth too under then kind of sec 66 of the act…irrespective of any kind of income people need to pay taxes, that way regressive economics works, but today hoarded wealth finds way out like builders and like that kind of ‘good Samaritans’ help the ill gotten wealth greats, this black money causes meaningless inflation, stagflation and the like, no government really could do anything meaningful , except like ‘black money act of ‘great thinker in arun jaitley for no black money ever would surface at all, who would like to share 90% or 120% of his black money, he would use corrupt methods like funding stock markets, builders and the like.

    our Mr. inspector would now have funded some builder and the like just because of his ‘savior clause’ sec 13(1)(d)i&ii of PCA! , After all inspector is now respectable Mister now, due to his very savior act and great interpretation by the honorable court,

    i would still recommend this honorable court to use its own sup motu mechanics could assess the said section on its own motion and use doctrine of severability instead of quashing the Act, thus ensure better heat on corrupt public servants, so also on bribe givers too, that way it could do yeoman’s services as apex judiciary,

    any way this inspector is saved and he could be asked to pay taxes on the 3.8 crores at 33% nly no penalty under sec 271(1) of IT act!.

  9. krishna kumar says:

    Acche Din For Corrupt Babus…. a very poor caption.

    I Expect similar caption for judgments in favour of Tax-thieves led by billionaire Thugs !!

  10. Sir, Corruption is the third and main reason for non-cooperation of public towards police. Although it existed in all forms of Indian society and the police force is no exception. The research says that out of 599 persons i.e. about 87% respondents including some top ranking Police officials say that Police is headlong indulged into corruption, although it must always be kept in mind that the action of few black sheep should not be used to tar and feather the entire police force.
    The police force in India had been organized to serve the interests of British Rulers. It is clear that neither the political class, nor the administration is interested in any systematic change, unless the Police Leaders having cooperation with people of the country, themselves refuse to put up with a grossly iniquitous system and force a change. Kautilya’s political sharpness, Lord Mecaulay’s deep knowledge of law and Col. Sleeman’s determination to eliminate corruption from POLICE is required. Dr. Satyanarayan Soni, Retd. Police officer, decorated with Presidednt’s Police Medal for Meritorious Services Year 2007. Mobile 9425030615

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