of A. P. Vs. R. Jeevaratnam  Insc 417
(30 July 2004)
N. Variava & Arijit Pasayat. S. N. Variava, J.
Appeal is against the Judgment dated 10th December, 1997 of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
stated the facts are as follows:
Respondent was, at the relevant time, functioning as the Secretary of Visakhapatnam
Port Trust. He was also a Member of the Tender Committee. He was also
officiating as the Secretary of the Board of Trustees of Visakhapatnam Port
Trust. The Visakhapatnam Port Trust had floated a tender, in response to which
one M/s Ramesh Chandra & Company had submitted a quotation for Rs. 1,33,84,702.80.
The tender of M/s. Ramesh Chandra & Company was the lowest. The complainant
one Mr. G. Subrahmanyam was the Manager and General Power of Attorney holder of
M/s. Ramesh Chandra & Company. According to the prosecution, on 23rd
December, 1991 the Complainant was called to the house of the Respondent. He
was there informed that there were many complications in the tender and that in
order to clear those complications a sum of Rs. 1,00,000/- would have to be
paid to the Respondent as bribe. According to the prosecution, the Complainant
expressed financial disability in paying the amount and was told by the
Respondent that the amount could be paid in 5 installments. According to the
prosecution, the Respondent told the Complainant that if the amount was not
paid the file would not be cleared. According to the prosecution, on 30th December, 1991, the Complainant again met the Respondent
when he was told that at least a sum of Rs. 10,000/- had to be paid as an
advance. The said amount of Rs. 10,000/- was to be paid on 31st December, 1991 in Hotel Apsara in Visakhapatnam. The Complainant then reported the
matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation, who laid a trap. The Respondent
was caught coming out of the hotel room with marked currency totaling Rs.
10,000/- in a briefcase which was carried by the Respondent.
Respondent was therefore prosecuted under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) read with
13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The prosecution examined 14
witnesses including the Complainant and one Mr. M. Veerabhadrarao who was
examined as P.W.2. P.W.2 was an absolutely independent witness who had acted as
a Panch witness and who knew neither the Complainant nor the Respondent. P.W.2
had no enmity with either party and it is not even alleged that he was trying
to favour either party.
evidence before him, the Special Judge convicted the accused and sentenced him
to R.I. for two years on each count and to pay a fine of Rs. 3,000/- on each
count. The Appeal filed by the Respondent has been allowed by the High Court by
the impugned Judgment. The High Court concludes, on the basis of evidence, that
by 23rd November, 1991 the file had already been cleared
to the knowledge of the Complainant. The High Court concludes that as the file
was already cleared the question of doing favour or not doing favour did not
arise. The High Court concludes that it was improbable that the Respondent
would have demanded Rs. 1,00,000/-. The High Court concludes that the
Respondent's version that the money must have been put into his briefcase when
he had gone to the toilet was probable. The High Court concludes that the
evidence of P.Ws. 1 and 2 does not establish that any demand was made. On this
basis the High Court acquits the Respondent even of the offence under Section 7
of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
this stage, it must be mentioned that on a complaint made by the same
Complainant, in respect of another incident, another officer of Visakhapatnam
Port Trust had also been prosecuted. In that case also the Trial Court had
found the Officer guilty but the High Court had acquitted her. This Court, in
its Judgment in the case of State of Andhra Pradesh vs. C. Uma Maheswara Rao reported in (2004) 4 SCC 399, set
aside the Judgment of the High Court and convicted the accused in that case.
While so doing, this Court noticed Section 20(1) of the Prevention of
Corruption Act which reads as follows:
Presumption where public servant accepts gratification other than legal
Where, in any trial of an offence punishable under Section 7 or Section 11 or
clause (a) or clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 13 it is proved that an
accused person has accepted or obtained or has agreed to accept or attempted to
obtain for himself, or for any other person, any gratification (other than
legal remuneration) or any valuable thing from any person, it shall be
presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that he accepted or obtained or agreed
to accept or attempted to obtain that gratification or that valuable thing, as
the case may be, as a motive or reward such as is mentioned in Section 7 or, as
the case may be, without consideration or for a consideration which he knows to
Court then analyzed the law on subject and held that the term "shall be
presumed" in Section 20(1) showed that Courts had to compulsory draw a
presumption. It held that the only condition for drawing the presumption is
that during trial it should be proved that the accused has accepted or agreed
to accept any gratification. It is held that the condition need not be
satisfied only through direct evidence. It is held that proof did not mean
direct proof as that would be impossible but the proof must be one which would
induce a reasonable man to come to a particular conclusion. It was held that
once it is proved that gratification has been accepted the presumption
automatically arose. This Court cited with approval the observations of a three
Judge Bench in the case of Raghubir Singh vs. State of Punjab reported in
(1974) 4 SCC 560 that the very fact that the accused was in possession of
marked currency notes against an allegation that he demanded and received the
amount is "res ipsa loquitur". We are in full agreement with the
observations made in that Judgment.
set out briefly the evidence in the matter. P.W. 1, i.e., the Complainant, has
deposed about the demand made on 23rd December, 1991 and it being repeated on 30th December, 1991 when the Respondent asked him to
pay at least Rs. 10,000/- on 31st December, 1991 in a hotel room in Hotel Apsara. He has deposed that he made a
complaint to CBI and that CBI arranged the trap. The Complainant deposed that
he had booked the room and he and P.W. 2 went into the Room no. 202. He deposed
that on receiving a call from the reception he went and brought the Respondent,
who came to Hotel Apsara, to Room No. 202 where P.W. 2 was waiting. He deposed
that he introduced P.W. 2 as the Group Financial Manager who had come from Bombay. P.W. 1 deposed that the Respondent
then asked whether he had brought the money demanded as a bribe. He deposed
that he opened a rexin bag and offered the marked currency amounting to Rs.
10,000/- but that the Respondent asked him to put the money into the briefcase
and, therefore, he put the amount into the briefcase. P.W. 1 deposed that
thereafter the Respondent took the briefcase and was about to leave the room
when he gave the prearranged signal and CBI nabbed the Respondent. In cross-
examination this version of P.W. 1 could not be shaken at all. This evidence
clearly established demand and acceptance of money.
version is supported by the deposition of P.W. 2. P.W. 2 was at that time the
Assistant Director of Post Office at Visakhapatnam. He was asked by his superior Officer to go to the CBI
Office. He did not know the Complainant or the Respondent. He deposed that P.W.
1, himself and the CBI officers along with marked currency went to Room No. 202
in Hotel Apsara. He deposed that a phone call was received from the reception
and P.W. 1 went out and brought the Respondent into the room. He deposed that
he was introduced to the Respondent as a Group Finance Manager of the company.
He deposed that P.W. 1 mentioned that as agreed earlier money had been brought
for payment of the first installment and that the rest of the amount would be
paid afterwards. He deposed that P.W. 1 asked the Respondent to clear the file.
He deposed that the Respondent thereupon assured P.W. 1 not to worry about the
file and that he (the Respondent) would see to it that the file is cleared
within one month. P.W. 2 deposed that P.W.1 offered the money to the
Respondent, but the Respondent asked him to place the money into his briefcase.
He deposed that P.W.1 therefore placed the money into the briefcase and the
Respondent then picked up the briefcase and was going out of the room when he
was apprehended pursuant to a pre-arranged signal.
Respondent was thus caught red-handed with the marked money in a briefcase
carried by him. The presumption under Section 20(1) thus arose. The High Court
unfortunately overlooks this aspect.
with this situation it was submitted by Mr. Anand, on behalf of the Respondent,
that the presumption under Section 20 does not arise in a case under Section
13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. He submitted that for an offence
under Section 13(1)(d) the demand had also to be proved. In support of his
submission he relied upon the case of Subash Parbat Sonvane vs. State of
Gujarat reported in (2002) 5 SCC 86.
submission overlooks the fact that the Respondent had been accused of an
offence under Section 7 also. His explanation that the money must have been put
into his briefcase when he had gone to the bathroom is unbelievable. Both P.Ws.
1 and 2 have denied that the Respondent went to the bathroom. There is no
explanation worth its name as to why the Respondent had gone into the hotel
room. Even his explanation that he had gone to the hotel to book a table for
the night of 31st December is belied by the fact that there is no evidence that
any table was booked by the Respondent. Thus it was proved that an offence
under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act had been committed.
otherwise, in our view, the High Court was entirely wrong in coming to a
conclusion that there was no proof of demand. The evidence of P.Ws. 1 and 2, to
the effect, that when the Respondent came into the room he was told that P.W.2 was
the Group Finance Manager, who had brought Rs. 10,000/- as demanded and the
further evidence that the Respondent assured that the file would be cleared
clearly establish that there was a demand and receipt of the money was as a
bribe. On this evidence which has not been shaken in cross- examination, in our
view, the offence under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) had also been
made out. The High Court erred in acquitting the Respondent merely on the basis
of conjectures and surmises.
this view of the matter, we set aside the Judgment of the High Court and
convict the Respondent under Section 7 and Section 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of
the Prevention of Corruption Act. In our view, the ends of justice would be
met, by sentencing the accused under both the counts to one year's rigorous
imprisonment. The fine and default stipulations will be as stipulated by the
Appeal is allowed to the extent indicated above. The Respondent is directed to
surrender to serve out the remaining sentence.