Narayana Vs. State of
Karnataka  INSC 821 (5 October 2010)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.307 OF 2003
NARAYANA .....Appellant Versus STATE OF KARNATAKA .....Respondent
HARJIT SINGH BEDI, J.
Sudarshan and PW-2 Bhargave, two brothers, were running the Varsha Provision
Store, Bijapur situated near the Government Maternity Hospital since the year
1989 after having obtained a license in the name of PW-2. The accused-
appellant Narayana who was working as a Commercial Tax Inspector came to the
shop in early December 1994 and enquired from PW-1 and PW-2 as to why they were
not paying sales tax. PW-1 told him that as the sale in the shop was less than
Rupees one lakh, no sales tax was payable. The appellant, however, told the two
brothers that they should pay a sum of Rs.2000/- on Diwali as was being paid by
others failing which he would issue a notice that the accounts maintained by
them were not accurate and that the shop would be seized and they would be
penalized. This threat was repeated by the appellant on two different
occasions Crl. Appeal No.307/2003 2 thereafter. On the 4th January, 1994, the
appellant came to the shop at around 10:00 a.m. and again demanded the payment.
PW-1, however, refused to pay as the sales tax was not leviable. The appellant,
however, told him that if a sum of Rs.1500/- was not paid within two or three
days they would suffer on that account.
PW-1 was not prepared to make the payment, he appeared on 5th January, 1994
before CW-16-M.Vishwanath, Inspector in the Lokayuktha Office and made a
complaint Exhibit P-1 to him. CW-16 also asked PW-7 Head Constable Khanderao,
to secure the presence of PW-5 Basavant Shankargouda Patil and PW-6 Mahadev
Sidramappa Dandoragi to act as witnesses. They were accordingly brought to the
office of the Inspector and the complainant narrated the entire story to them
as well. CW-16 also told PW-1 to produce the bribe amount of Rs.1500/- and the
currency notes provided by him were smeared with Phenopthelene powder and the
details of the test to be conducted were also displayed to the witnesses.
raiding party left for Bijapur at 3:00 p.m. and reached the Inspection Bungalow
at about 5:00 p.m. PW-1 was sent to find out as to whether the appellant was
available in his office. He returned after a short while and told them that the
appellant was indeed in the office and that he would Crl. Appeal No.307/2003 3
be visiting the shop in the evening. The party thereafter returned to the
Inspection Bungalow and then went on to the shop belonging to the complainant.
The appellant, however, came to the shop at about around 8:00 p.m. and at that
time PW-2 was also present in the shop. The appellant stated that he was in a
hurry and that the payment should be made to him immediately. PW-1 thereafter
took out the currency notes and handed them over to the appellant who put the
same in his hand bag. Immediately thereafter, PW-1 came out of the shop and
made a pre-determined signal on which CW-16 and PW-7 and the other witnesses
rushed in shop. CW-16, thereafter took out the money from the hand bag of the
appellant and the Phenopthelene test was carried out and the colour of the
solution turned pink. The serial numbers of the currency notes were also
tallied with the memo prepared at the time of the preparation of the trap.
the completion of the investigation and after due sanction from PW-8, the
Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, the appellant was brought to trial. The
prosecution in support of its case relied primarily on the evidence of PWs-1, 2
and 7 and also the circumstantial evidence in the case as PWs-5 and 6 turned
hostile. The Trial Court on a consideration of the evidence acquitted the
appellant. The matter was thereafter taken in appeal to the High Court. The
High Court has, by the Crl. Appeal No.307/2003 4 impugned judgment, set aside
the conviction and sentenced the appellant as under:
accused is sentenced to undergo imprisonment for a period of 6 months and also
to pay a fine of Rs.2000/- and in default to suffer S.I. for one month for the
offence under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and he is also
directed to undergo imprisonment for a period of 1 year and also to pay fine of
Rs.5000/- and in default to suffer S.I. for 3 months for offence under Section
13 (1)(d) r/w 12 (2) of the said Act and the accused is directed to suffer the
said sentence accordingly, The accused is also directed appear before the trial
court and to pay the fine amount within one month from the date of this
judgment and the trial court shall commit him to the prison to suffer
imprisonment in accordance with this judgment, failing which the trial court
shall issue warrant and secure the presence of the accused and commit him to
prison in accordance with this judgment.
Both the sentences to
run concurrently and the accused is also entitled for the benefit of provisions
of Section 428 Cr.P.C."
arriving at its conclusions, the court observed that though interference in an
appeal against acquittal should only be for substantial and compelling reasons
but at the same time it was open to the appellate court to review the evidence
and to determine as to whether the judgment of the trial court was justified on
the evidence if the acquittal was completely without basis, interference was
this prefatory note, the High Court examined the evidence. It was observed that
the statements of PWs-1, 2 and 7 were without any blemish as to the recovery of
the bribe amount was proved beyond any doubt notwithstanding the fact that
CW-16, the Lokayuktha Inspector, had since died and could not thus be examined
as a witness. The court observed that as there were several witnesses to the
trap merely because PWs-5 and 6 had not supported the evidence and had been
declared hostile, would not detract from the evidence of the other witnesses.
The court also observed that the money had been handed over to the appellant who
had put it in his hands bag and as the phenopthelene test was positive, this
too was a corroborative evidence. The court further opined that in the light of
the presumption drawn under Section 20 of the Prevention of Corruption Act,
1988, the case against the appellant stood proved.
present appeal has been filed impugning the judgment of the High Court.
Bhat, the learned counsel for the appellant has submitted that the trial court
had taken a view in favour of the appellant and interference by the appellate
court in an acquittal appeal was not warranted. It has also been submitted that
there were substantial discrepancies in the evidence of PWs-1, 2 and 7 with
respect to the actual trap as Crl. Appeal No.307/2003 6 PWs-5 and 6, the only two
independent witnesses had been declared hostile, the evidence of interested
witnesses alone could not form the basis for conviction.
Hegde, the learned counsel for the State of Karnataka has, however, supported
the judgment of High Court and has pointed out that there was absolutely no
justification in the acquittal recorded by the Trial Court and the said
judgment was completely contrary to the evidence. It has been argued that the
appellant had visited the premises belonging to PWs-1 and 2 on three or four
occasions and there was absolutely no reason as to why they would involve him
in a false case as no animosity of any kind had been suggested. He has finally
submitted in the light of the fact that the money had been recovered from the
hand bag of the appellant a presumption under Section 20 of the Act was also to
be raised against him.
have considered the arguments advanced by the learned counsel for the parties.
We find in the facts of the case that the decision of the High Court was fully
justified. The Trial Court, had on a complete misreading of the evidence,
rendered a judgment which could not be sustained. We have also gone through the
evidence of the PWs.1 and 2 who categorically speak about the demand and these
witnesses alongwith PW-7 speak about the recovery of the tainted money as well.
It is also significant that the evidence had been Crl. Appeal No.307/2003 7
recorded over a period of about four years and if there were some minor
discrepancies inter-se PWs-1, 2 and 7, it would reasonably be explained on
account of this long delay.
Bhat has, however, submitted that as CW-16, the Investigating Officer had not
been examined, this fact caused prejudice to the appellant. This argument has
absolutely no merit as CW-16 had died before his statement could be recorded.
the reasons recorded above, we find no merit in this appeal. It is accordingly
(HARJIT SINGH BEDI)
(CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)