SC: Mere Possession of Currency does not constitute offence under Prevention of Corruption Act

Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah opposed the judgement of High Court and acquitted the accused from corruption case stating that mere possession of currency notes does not constitute an offence under section 7 of Corruption Act.

The appellant-accused was working as Sanitary Inspector in 8th ward of madhuri municipal corporation. He was chargesheeted for the offence under section 7, 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of the Act alleging that he demanded an amount of Rs 500/- and a cell phone as an illegal gratification from W2, who was working as a supervisor who was working as in a voluntary service organisation called Neat and Clean service squad (NACSS)

The court observed that after completion of the phthalein test, statement if appellant was not recorded as required under rule 47 Clause 1 of the Vigilance Manual. Further PW11 also clearly deposed in cross examination that he did not test the hands of appellant accused immediately after payment and handing over of the money and cell phones.

Court observed that “In view of the contradictions noticed by us above in the depositions of key witnesses examined on behalf of the prosecution, we are of the view that the demand for and acceptance of bribe amount and cell phone by the appellant, is not proved beyond reasonable doubt. Having regard to such evidence on record the acquittal recorded by the trial court is a “possible view” as such the judgment of the High Court is fit to be set aside. Before recording conviction under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, courts have to take utmost care in scanning the evidence. Once conviction is recorded under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, it casts a social stigma on the person in the society apart from serious consequences on the service rendered. At the same time it is also to be noted that whether the view taken by the trial court is a possible view or not, there cannot be any definite proposition and each case has to be judged on its own merits, having regard to evidence on record.”

Learned counsel for the appellant has also submitted that the judgment and conviction for the offence under Section 7 of the Act dated 22.09.2020 and 29.09.2020 is contrary to Section 362 of Cr.PC.N.Vijayakumar vs. State of Tamil Nadu [CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 100­101 OF 2021]

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