Libertatem Magazine

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947- Bribery Trap Case

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In Selvaraj v.State of Karnataka, (2015) 10 SCC 230 the judgment and order of acquittal passed by trial Court reversed by High Court was set aside in the particular case. An appeal was preferred in the Supreme Court against the judgment and order passed by the High Court which convicted and sentenced the appellant for commission of offence punishable under section 5(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, it reversed the judgment of acquittal passed by the trial court and sentencing him for three months with a fine of Rs.50, 000/- and in default to undergo SI for six months The prosecution case briefly is , that he appellant was working as First Division Assistant in the District Treasury, Hassan. Complainant witness (CW-1), Peter Philip, contacted the accused to secure refund of loan subsidy in a sum of Rs.13, 990/ and he met him on 28.1.1988. The accused demanded illegal gratification of Rs 200 which he did not like and contacted the Lokayukta Police and lodged a complaint 1st February 1988. A trap was arranged on the same date itself by the Investigating Officer in the presence of PW-1, PW-2 and 2 officials of Zila Parishad to act as the witnesses. Phenolphthalein powder was smeared on the baited money and was handed over to CW-1. PW-2 was instructed to be a shadow witness.CW-1 went along with PW-2 to the said office. On demand, CW-1 paid the money to the accused. PW-2 witnessed the transaction. The phenolphthalein test was done, and the money was recovered from the possession of the accused as per the seizure memo. But the complainant CW-1 died before the commencement of the trial. But the prosecution did all the formalities. 9 witnesses, 23 documents were exhibited and 8 material objects were submitted. The Special Judge, Hassan, vides judgment and order dated 16.4.1999 acquitted the accused. On appeal, the High Court has reversed the conviction; hence, the appeal has been filed in this Court. The Supreme Court concluded that the complainant, Peter Philip, CW-1 died before the trial, as such he was not available for cross-examination. There were contradiction among the versions of PW-1 and PW-2 .The contradictions are important and could not be ignored. It was necessary for the prosecution to prove when the subsidy was paid as the I.O has stated that he seized release order of the subsidy on 12.1.1988. If it was paid on 1.2.1988 or earlier, has not been proved, because the very basis of the crime is release of subsidy, for which bribe was being demanded by the accused. Thus, acceptance of the bribe has not been established by adducing cogent evidence and that there is no issue to set aside the judgment of the High Court and restore of the Trial Court. The appeal was allowed.

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