Supreme Court Rules That Accused Possessing Bribe Money Without Valid Explanation Shall Be Presumed Guilty

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Supreme Court of India made life a little more difficult for the corrupt as it ruled that accused possessing bribe money shall be presumed guilty if he cannot provide a valid explanation for ownership of such huge amount of money.

Case Title

State of Gujrat v. Navinbhai Chandrakant Joshi etc.

Facts of the Case

Accused No.1 and Accused No.2 both were working as junior clerks in the Non-Agriculture Department. Complainant purchased a plot at Village Chhatral for establishing a new firm for manufacturing of acrylic monomal. Agreement to sell was executed in December 1990 and sale deed was executed in March 1991. Complainant placed the revised plan for necessary Non-Agriculture permission. Accused No.1 reassured the complainant repeatedly that necessary permission will be granted but later informed the complainant that his application was rejected. Complainant paid a fine of Rs.368 on instructions of Taluka Development Officer and requested Accused no.1 to speed up the matter and grant him the necessary permissions. Accused no.1 asked for Rs. 1000 to speed up the matter and ultimately it was settled at Rs.500. Accused no.1 agreed to grant him all the required permission after he received the amount agreed. Complainant lodged a complaint with ACB Officer and after completion of all the formalities, a trap was set. On 3.04.1991 Accused no.1 guided the complainant to give the money to Accused no.2. Accused no.2 after receiving the money placed it in his left side shirt pocket and sat near Accused no.1. On showing the pre-arranged signal, Police came inside and seized the currency notes from Accused no.2. The ultraviolet light revealed the presence of anthracene powder on left side pocket of the shirt of Accused no.2 and on the hands of Accused no.1. The charge sheet was filed. Trial Court declared the two accused guilty and convicted them under section 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act,1988. On appeal, High Court reversed the verdict of trial court citing that prosecution could not prove the demand and acceptance from the accused persons and amount could not be recovered from Accused no.1. State preferred an appeal against this verdict in the Supreme Court.

The decision of the Case

A bench of Justice Rajan Gogoi and Justice R Banumathi after examining the matter set aside the High Court judgment and said that

“Since it is established that the accused was possessing the bribe money, it was for them to explain that hoe the bribe money has been received by them and if he fails to offer any satisfactory explanation, it will be presumed that he has accepted the bribe. In the case in hand, the accused have not offered any explanation to rebut the presumption under section 20 of the Act.”

Moreover, the bench also observed that when the demand for illegal gratification was proved by the evidence, the High Court was not right in holding that the demand and acceptance were not proved.

Learning of the Case

From this case, we learn that a person possessing the bribe has to show to the court how he obtained such money to free himself from the charge of corruption.

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