Indu Bhusan Chatterjee Vs. The State of
West Bengal  INSC 106 (26 November 1957)
IMAM, SYED JAFFER SINHA, BHUVNESHWAR P.
CITATION: 1958 AIR 148 1958 SCR 1001
of a valid sanction-Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (2 Of 1947), SS.5(2), 6
-Indian Penal Code (Act 45 of 1860), S. 161.
The appellant, a public servant, was
convicted under S. 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, and under s.
161 of the Indian Penal Code on a charge of accepting a sum of Rs. 100 as
illegal gratification. It was contended for the appellant that the conviction
was bad on the ground that the sanction for his prosecution was not valid
because the officer competent to sanction the prosecution (1) had not applied
his mind to the facts and circumstances of the case but merely perused the
draft prepared by the Police and (2) did not investigate the truth of the
offence' The evidence, however, showed that he went through all the papers
placed before him which gave him the necessary material upon which he decided
that it was necessary in the ends of justice to accord his sanction :
Held, that the essentials of a valid sanction
were present in the case and that the conviction was valid. Gokulchand
Dwarkadas Morarka v. The King, (1948) L.R. 75 I.A. 30, referred to.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 18 of 1955.
Appeal from the judgment and order dated
December 1, 1954, of the Calcutta High Court in Criminal Appeal No. 322 of
1953, arising out of the judgment and order dated November 20, 1953, of the
West Bengal First Special Court at Alipore in Case No. 3 of 1953.
N. C. Chatterjee and D. N. Mukherjee, for the
B. Sen and P. K. Ghosh (for P. K. Bose), for
1957. November 26. The following Judgment of
the Court was delivered by IMAM J.-The High Court of Calcutta certified under
134(1)(c) of the Constitution that the case
before us was a fit one for appeal to this Court. The 127 1000 ground for the
granting of the certificate, as stated by the High Court, will be considered in
The appellant was convicted under s. 5(2) of
the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (II of 1947), hereinafter referred to as
the Act, and under s. 161 of the Indian Penal Code by a Special Judge who
sentenced him under s. 161, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three months
and to pay a fine of Rs. 500 in default to suffer further rigorous imprisonment
for one month. No separate sentence was passed under s. 5(2) of the Act. He
unsuccessfully appealed to the High Court against his conviction and sentence.
The charge framed against the appellant under
s. 161 of the Indian Penal Code, in substance, stated that on or about May 12,
1952,he had accepted Rs. 100 as illegal gratification from V. S. Doraiswamy as
a motive or reward for doing an official act and showing in the exercise of his
official functions favour to Doraiswamy in seeing that a speedy and favourable
settlement of the claim cases preferred by him against the Bengal Nagpur
Railway, subsequently the Eastern Railway. The charge under s. 5(2) of the Act
which related to the same transaction stated that the appellant had accepted
the aforesaid sum of Rs. 100 by corrupt or illegal means or by otherwise
abusing his position as a public servant.
It is unnecessary to set out in any great
detail the story of the prosecution as to how Doraiswamy and the appellant came
into contact and how the process of giving bribe to the appellant began. They
met in 1950. Rs. 10 was paid to the appellant in October, 1951, and Rs. 15 in
January, 1952, as the result of the appellant asking Doraiswamy for some
gratification for speedy and favourable disposal of his claim cases. The
appellant was at that time Assistant Supervisor of Claim Cases of the Bengal
Nagpur Railway of the Vizianagram Section. On some secret information, the
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Special Police Establishment at Puri directed
Inspector G. N. Brahma to contact Doraiswamy in connection with a report of
alleged dishonesty by railway officials. Brahma met Doraiswamy and asked him to
meet him again at 1001 Calcutta on May 10, 1952, after the latter had filed a
complaint along with some letters said to have been written by the appellant.
Permission was obtained from the Chief Presidency Magistrate, Calcutta to
investigate the case.
Thereafter Doraiswamy met the appellant in
Calcutta and it was settled that the former would pay the latter Rs. 100 on May
12, 1952, at 6 p. m. at the India Coffee House.
Doraiswamy informed the police of the
arrangement. Marked tenrupee currency notes were given to Doraiswamy. The
appellant and Doraiswamy met at the India Coffee House as arranged. There was a
talk between them about expediting the claim cases which were being dealt with
by the appellant and a list of them was given to him. This list and the bundle
of marked currency notes which Doraiswamy gave him were put in the left upper
pocket of his shirt by the appellant. The Inspectors H. K. Mukherjee and S. B.
Mitra along with G. N. Gosh, an Assistant Director of Postal Services and
Brahma came up to the appellant. He was accused by the police of having
received 10 ten-rupee currency notes as bribe from Doraiswamy and was asked to
After some hesitation the appellant produced
the currency notes as well as the list given to him by Doraiswamy. The number
of the currency notes were checked and found to tally with the previously noted
numbers of the currency notes given to Doraiswamy for handing them over to the
The case of the prosecution was found to have
been proved by both the courts below and the appellant was convicted and
sentenced as stated above.
It may be stated at the outset that the
concurrent findings of fact arrived at by the courts below were not questioned
before us. The only question canvassed before us was whether there had been a
valid sanction given under s. 6 of the Act without which no court could take
cognizance of the offences alleged to have been committed by the appellant.
In order to appreciate the submission made by
Mr. Chatterjee in this connection, a few facts have to be stated and some
reference to the evidence of 1002 Mr. Bokil, P.W. 5, Chief Commercial
Superintendent of the Eastern Railway at Calcutta will be necessary.
The appellant as Assistant Supervisor of
Claim Cases of the then Bengal Nagpur Railway (later the Eastern Railway) had
the power to deal finally with claims up to Rs. 75 and for claims in excess of
that sum to make a recommendation to his superior officer, the Assistant
Doraiswamy was working on behalf of several
persons who had made claims against the Railway. These cases were numerous.
All these cases had to be dealt with by the
appellant either by passing final orders himself, if the value in each case was
Rs. 75 or less, or by recommending to his superior officer the cases where the
value of the claim, in each case, was more than Rs. 75. The appellant,
therefore, being incharge of all the claim cases played an important part in
their disposal either by passing final orders himself or by making
recommendations. When the appellant was paid Rs. 100 at the India Coffee House
on May 12, 1952, he was found in possession of the marked currency notes and the
list of cases, in which claims had been made, which had been given to him by
Doraiswamy. Sanction for the prosecution of the appellant was sought from the
Chief Commercial Superintendent Mr. Bokil, P.W. 5. There is no dispute that Mr.
Bokil was competent to grant the sanction. He had stated in his evidence that
before according the sanction he went through all the relevant papers and was
satisfied that in the interests of justice the appellant should be prosecuted.
He, accordingly, gave the sanction in writing and this document was marked as
Ex. 6. Exhibit 6 clearly states that the appellant had demanded on May 12,
1952, as bribe the sum of Rs. 100 from Doraiswamy and had accepted the sum as a
motive or reward for speedy and favourable settlement of the claim cases, that
Mr. Bokil had applied his mind to the facts and the circumstances of the case
and was satisfied that in the interests of justice, the appellant should be put
on his trial in a Court of competent jurisdiction for offences under s. 161 of
the Indian Penal Code and s. 5(2) of the Act alleged to have been 1003
committed by him. He, accordingly, under the provisions of s. 6 of the Act,
accorded his sanction that the appellant be prosecuted in a competent court of
law for the offence of having accepted illegal gratification as a motive or
reward for showing favour to Doraiswamy in respect of the claim cases filed
against the Vizianagram Section of the Railway.
Exhibit 6 on the face of it and the evidence
of Mr. Bokil in examination-in-chief clearly establish that a valid sanction
had been accorded by Mr. Bokil. It was, however, urged before the Special
Judge, as it was urged in the High Court, that certain statements made by Mr.
Bokil in crossexamination clearly showed that he had not applied his mind to
the facts and circumstances of the case and the sanction accorded by him was
not a valid one. The Special Judge rejected this contention and was satisfied
that Ex. 6 on the face of it disclosed a valid sanction for the prosecution of
the appellant. The learned Judges of the High Court who heard the appeal were
also satisfied that Mr. Bokil had, in fact, applied his mind to the facts and
circumstances of the case. Regarding the statements made by Mr. Bokil in crossexamination
they were of the opinion that they did not show that he did not apply his mind
to the facts of the case.
These statements merely showed that he did
not investigate the truth of the case presented against the appellant. An
application was filed in the High Court under Art. 134 of the Constitution for
the granting of a certificate that the case was a fit one for appeal to this
Court. The order granting the certificate shows that the learned Judges who
heard the application were of the opinion that the sanction accorded in this case
was not a valid sanction. The learned Judges were of the -opinion that the
question whether or not there was a proper sanction in the case was a question
serious enough to justify the granting of a certificate.
It is necessary therefore to decide whether
the sanction accorded in this case was a valid sanction. The substance of the
sanction has already been stated but in order that there may be no
misunderstanding we quote the very words of the sanction itself:
1004 " Whereas a complaint was made
against Shri Indu Bhusan Chatterjee, Assistant Supervisor, Claims, of the B. N.
Railway (now Eastern Railway) Garden Reach, Calcutta, who looked after the
claims cases against the Railway of the Vizianagram Section, that the said Indu
Bhusan Chatterjee had demanded and on 12th May, 1952, accepted a bribe of Rs.
100 (Rupees one hundred only) from Shri V. S.
Doraiswamy of the Commercial Claims Bureau, Vizianagram as a motive or reward
for speedy and favourable settlement of the claims cases of the Commercial
Claims Bureau and thereby having committed an offence punishable under Section
161 1. P. C.
and also the offence of criminal misconduct
by the illegal and corrupt use of his official position as a public servant to
obtain a pecuniary advantage for himself punishable under Section 5(2) read
with Section 5(1), clause (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act II of 1947,
1, R. K. Bokil, Chief Commercial Superintendent, Eastern Railway, Calcutta,
having applied my mind to the facts and circumstances of the case, am satisfied,
and am of the opinion that in the interests of justice, Shri Indu Bhusan
Chatterjee, Assistant Supervisor, Claims, Eastern Railway, Garden Reach,
Calcutta, be put on his trial in a Court of competent jurisdiction for the
offences alleged against him. That as Shri Indu Bhusan Chatterjee, Assistant
Supervisor, Claims, Eastern Railway, Garden Reach, Calcutta, is removable from
his office by me;
I therefore by virtue of the powers vested in
me by Section 6(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act II of 1947, do hereby
accord sanction that Shri Indu Bhusan Chatterjee be prosecuted in a competent
Court of law for the offence of having accepted an illegal gratification as a
motive or reward for showing favour to Shri V.S. Doraiswamy, in his official
functions viz., the settlement of the cases of the Vizianagram Section of
Eastern Railway, punishable under Section 161 I.P.C. and for the offence of
criminal misconduct for the corrupt and illegal use of his official position to
obtain a pecuniary advantage for himself punishable under Section 5(2) of the
Prevention of Corruption Act (Act II of 1947)." 1005 In our opinion, this
sanction clearly states all the facts which concern the prosecution case
alleged against the appellant with reference to his acceptance of Rs. 100 from
Doraiswamy on May 12,1952, in circumstances which, if established, would
constitute offences under s. 161, Indian Penal Code and s. 5(2) of the Act. The
sanction also clearly states that Mr. Bokil had applied his mind and was of the
opinion that in the interests of justice the appellant should be prosecuted.
The charge framed against the appellant at his trial was with reference to this
very incident and none other. What more facts were required to be stated in the
sanction itself we are unable to understand. Mr. Bokil in his
examination-in-chief stated " On the prayer of the police, I accorded
sanction to the prosecution of one Shri I. B. Chatterjee who was the Assistant
Supervisor of Claims. Before according sanction I went through all relevant
papers and was satisfied that in the interest of justice, Sri I.B. Chatterjee
should be prosecuted. This is the sanction marked Ex. 6 ". In crossexamination,
however, he made the following statement: " This sanction Ex. 6 was
prepared by the police and it was put before me by the personnel branch of my
office. I did not call for any record in connection with this matter from my
office. I did not call for the connected claim cases nor did I enquire about
the position of those claim cases." The learned Judges in granting the
certificate, apparently, were impressed by the statement of Mr. Bokil that Ex.
6 was prepared by the police and put before him by the personnel branch of his
office, because the learned Chief Justice observed, "I can hardly imagine
the duty of granting the proper sanction being properly discharged by merely
putting one's signature on a ready-made sanction presented by the police."
It seems to us that Mr. Bokil's statement does not prove that he merely put his
signature on a readymade sanction presented by the police. It is true that he
did not himself dictate or draft the sanction, but Mr. Bokil has stated in the
clearest terms, in his examination-in-chief, that before be accorded sanction
he went through all the relevant papers. There is no 1006 reason to distrust
this statement of Mr. Bokil, nor has the High Court, while granting the
certificate of fitness, done so. He was an officer of high rank in the Railway
and must have been fully aware that the responsibility of according the
sanction against an official of the Railway subordinate to him lay upon him. It
is inconceivable that an officer of the rank of Mr. Bokil would blindly sign a
ready-made sanction prepared by the police. Apparently, the sanction already
drafted contained all the material facts upon which the prosecution was to be
launched, if at all, concerning the acceptance of the bribe by the appellant on
May 12, 1952. When Ex. 6 was placed before Mr. Bokil other relevant papers
were also placed before him. It is significant that Mr. Bokil was not cross examined
as to what the other relevant papers were and in the absence of any question
being put to Mr. Bokil we must accept his statement that the papers placed
before him were relevant to the only question before him whether he should or
should not accord his sanction to the prosecution of the appellant. Mr. Bokil
said, and we see no reason to distrust his statement, that before he accorded
his sanction lie went through all these papers and after being satisfied that sanction
should be given he accorded his sanction. It is true that he did not call for
any record in connection with the matter from his office nor did he call for
the connected claim cases or find out as to how they stood. It was not for Mr.
Bokil to judge the truth of the allegations made against the appellant by
calling for the records of the connected claim cases or other records in
connection with the matter from his office.
The papers which were placed before him
apparently gave him the necessary material upon which he decided that it was
necessary in the ends of justice to accord his sanction.
Reliance was placed on the case of Gokulchand
Dwarkadas Morarka v. The King(1) and other cases, to which it is unnecessary to
refer, in support of the submission on behalf of the appellant that the
sanction accorded was not a valid sanction. A careful reading, (1) (1948) L.R.
75 I.A. 30.
1007 however, of Morarka's case (1) satisfies
us that the sanction accorded in this case in no way conflicts with the
observations of their Lordships of the Judicial Committee.
On the contrary, in our opinion, it is in
keeping with them.
None of the other cases cited by the learned
Counsel for the appellant assist us in the matter. When the sanction itself and
the evidence of Mr. Bokil are carefully scrutinized and read together there can
be little doubt that the sanction accorded was a valid sanction. The only point
which had been argued before us and which was the expressed reason for the
granting of the certificate having failed, the appeal must be dismissed and the
decision of the High Court in upholding the conviction and sentence of the
appellant must be upheld.