Recovery Of Currency Without Proof Of Demand For Bribe Not Enough: HC

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Jammu—Mere possession and recovery of currency notes from the accused without proof of demand and acceptance cannot be construed to mean that the offences of corruption levelled against an accused are proved, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court said while acquitting an officer of Joint Director CAPD of the charges of corruption.  

“Neither the complainant nor the shadow witness have supported the prosecution case in its material particulars that is regarding the demand and acceptance of the bribe money by the accused,” a bench of Justice M K Hanjura said. “The prosecution has not examined the witnesses, who were present in the office of the accused (as stated by the shadow witness in his statement) when the bribe money as alleged is said to have been paid to the accused by the complainant. The evidence of the shadow witness was unworthy of credit. On a close appreciation of the testimony of the members of the raiding party, they have not, in any manner whatsoever, pleaded for the Prosecution version that the demand and acceptance of the illegal gratification was made by the accused/ appellant in their presence. The complainant has stated it in unequivocal terms that it was the Orderly, who demanded the money from him. He has not stated that any demand for the payment of bribe emanated from the accused/appellant. This version is consistent with the innocence of the accused/ appellant buttressed with the fact that the shadow witness did not witness the crime. Thus, on the evaluation of the evidence tendered at the time of trial and the proposition of law evolved in the judicial dictums cited above, the Prosecution has failed to rebut the presumption of the innocence of the accused/ appellant. The complaint and the FIR are not substantive pieces of evidence. These can be merely used for contradicting and corroborating the witness,” the court said and held that trial Court has not been correct in holding that the demand alleged to have been made by the accused and the acceptance of the bribe by him has been proved. “Mere possession and recovery of currency notes from the accused without proof of demand and acceptance cannot be construed to mean that the offences levelled against the accused are proved and to crown it all even the recovery of the currency notes pales into insignificance in view of the fact that the same is said to have been made from the drawer of the office of the accused and not from the search of his person.”

As per the prosecution B A Koul of Wandihama Ganderbal filed a written complaint before the authorities of the Vigilance Organization, Kashmir, Srinagar, stating that he was working as a Store Keeper in the office of the CA & PD Department, situated at Ganderbal. He was awaiting his posting orders and in this regard, the accused demanded an amount of Rs. 15000 from him as bribe. An amount of Rs. 10,000 was decided and settled to be paid in advance. The authorities of the Vigilance Organization took cognizance of his complaint and registered an FIR bearing No. 121/2011 for the commission of offences punishable under Section 5 (2) Prevention Act, 2006 and Section 161 RPC with which the investigation commenced. Trial culminated into his conviction on 25.08.2017 by Special Judge, Anti-Corruption, Srinagar, whereby the accused Mohammad Ashraf Wani was convicted and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years for an offence under Section 5 (1) (d) read with Section 5 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, as also to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000/- and to undergo a further rigorous imprisonment of six months for the commission of an offence under Section 161 RPC, and in default of the payment of fine to undergo a simple imprisonment for three months.

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