The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside the Gujarat High Court order which reversed the conviction of an accused under the Act and held that “Offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act are offences against the society”.
A bench of Justices R Subash Reddy, Ashok Bhushan, and M R Shah said that the High Court that was hearing the appeal against Conviction should have done a re-appreciation of evidence.
The top court held that the High Court did not strictly proceed in the manner that it was supposed to while dealing with the appeal. It also said that there was no re-appreciation of the entire evidence done while acquitting the accused.
The top court further noted that the high court only made general observations on the depositions of the witness but no re-appreciation on the complete evidence has been recorded in detail which was actually supposed to be done by the High Court while dealing with the order of conviction passed by the trial court.
The Bench said the HC was dealing with the first appeal against the order of conviction, and since it is the First Appellate Court it is supposed to re-appreciate the entire evidence and reasoning given by the trial Court. It further went on to say that non-re-appreciation may affect the case of either accused or the prosecution.
The SC said that the basis of HC judgment was flawed and its approach towards dealing or non-dealing with the evidence is illegal which leads to the miscarriage of justice.
The court said that the High Court should have appreciated the fact that it was dealing with offences under the prevention of corruption act and these offences are offences against the Society thus the court should have examined the case in detail and been more careful. It also expressed that it did not approve of the manner by which the High Court went ahead with the case.
The Bench did not engage with the merits of the case, instead, it asked the High Court to deal with the case afresh and on its own merits.
Balachandra Laxmishankar Dave was the accused who worked as an Assistant Director in ITI, Gujarat. He was charged with offences punishable under the act.
Special Judge Baruch held the accused guilty and sentenced him to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine. On appeal, the High Court reversed this, against this action of the high court the state government moved to the Supreme Court.
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