Kuldeep Sharma Vs State
of H.P. & ANR.
J U D G M E N T
aggrieved by his conviction and sentence under Sections 120-B, 467, 468, 471 and
420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as the "IPC")
and Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (hereinafter called
as "P.C. Act") is before us with leave of the Court.
to the prosecution, in the year 1984 the appellant Kuldeep Sharma and Co-accused
Rajinder Sharma were posted as Junior Engineer and Assistant Engineer 2respectively
at Jubbal Sub-division of the Irrigation and Public Health Department of the Government
of Himachal Pradesh. A telegram alleging malpractices against both of them were
received on 26th September, 1984 in the Anti-Corruption Unit at Shimla. A
preliminary investigation was conducted and on that basis, First Information Report
No. 5/84 was lodged. Investigation revealed that muster roll no. 146 (Ext. PW-1/A)
for the period 1st of July, 1984 to 31st of July, 1984 which pertained to the running
and maintenance of flow irrigation scheme was earlier given to PW-1 Chander Singh,
Meter Reader, who returned with the endorsement `blank' on it to the co-accused.
On 29th of August, 1984, co-accused smeared the word `blank' with red ink and
handed over to PW-2 Dula Ram to enter the names of two labourers and to mark
them present for the month of July, 1984. In the said muster roll, the names of
Kanshi Ram and Ram Bahadur were recorded by PW-2 Dula Ram, the then Supervisor and
it was countersigned by the appellant. On the basis of the said entry, wages
were paid to the aforesaid persons. According to the prosecution on investigation
it transpired that the aforesaid labourers did not 3work for the period for which
they were marked "present" in the muster roll.
case of the prosecution is that Muster Roll No. 230 (Ext. PW-3/A) for the period
1st September, 1984 to 30th September, 1984 pertaining to the repairs and
maintenance of water supply scheme was issued by the then Executive Engineer PW-14
D.R. Gupta to the co-accused who in turn endorsed it to the appellant herein. However,
lateron, co-accused struck-off the first endorsement and endorsed it to Hazari Nand
(PW-8), the then Supervisor. This muster roll contained the names of Devki
Nand, Gursa Ram, Lok Pal and Joginder Singh as casual labourers recorded by Hazari
Nand and verified by the appellant. Payments to the aforesaid labourers were
made by the Assistant Engineer who succeeded the co-accused.
for prosecution of the appellant along with co-accused was granted for offence punishable
under Sections 409, 465, 467, 468, 471, 201, 511 and 120-B of the IPC as 4also for
offence under Section 5(2) of the P.C. Act. While granting sanction, the State Government
observed that the appellant entered into criminal conspiracy with the
co-accused and prepared false muster roll no. 146 in which names of casual
labourers, who were not engaged, inserted.
of them i.e. Appellant Kuldeep Sharma, Junior Engineer and Co-accused Rajinder Sharma
were sent up for trial and they were charged for commission of the offence under
Sections 467, 468, 471, 420 and 120-B of the IPC and Section 5(2) of the P.C.
Act. Appellant, pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.
order to bring home the charge, the prosecution has altogether examined 15 witnesses
besides a large number of documents were exhibited. The defence of the appellant
is denial simplicitor and he termed the incriminating evidence against him as
false when examined under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. On
appraisal of the evidence, the Trial Court convicted the appellant and the co-accused
for 5offence under Sections 120-B, 467, 468, 471 and 420 of the IPC and Section
5(2) of the P.C. Act and sentenced them to various terms of imprisonment.
as also the co-accused aggrieved by their conviction and sentence preferred
separate appeals. The High Court by the impugned judgment dismissed both the
appeals with some reduction in sentence.
order will govern the case of the appellant only.
Ashok Kr. Panda, learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant
made attempt to assail the finding of the trial court as affirmed by the High
Court and while doing so contended that in fact the appellant had not certified
the contents of the muster roll and further no certificate was given by him. However,
from the evidence of PW-1, Shri Chander Singh, PW-2 Shri Dula Ram and PW-14 Shri
D.R. Gupta, Meter Reader, Supervisor and Executive Engineer respectively, it is
evident that the muster roll was verified by the appellant 6herein. The muster roll
has been exhibited which bears the signature of the appellant. PW-14, D.R.
Gupta has stated in his evidence that the muster roll basically is a document which
is maintained by the Junior Engineer in which the names of the persons engaged
and working are shown and on that basis the payment is made to the labourers
engaged. The witnesses have further stated that muster roll no. 146 and 230 (Ext.
PW1/A and Ext. PW-3/A) respectively were verified and countersigned by the appellant.
In that view of the matter, there is no escape from the conclusion that it is
the appellant who had verified and countersigned the muster roll and gave false
certificate and on that basis wages were disbursed to the labourers.
Panda, then submits that the appellant was a whistle blower and in fact complained
about the mal-functioning of the co-accused and was forced to sign the muster roll.
In support of the submission, reliance has been placed on few decisions of this
Court. Mr. Himinder Lal, learned Counsel, however, representing the respondent submits
that the appellant after having been caught is raising the plea of whistle-blower
and at no point of time he ever complained about the functioning of the Assistant
Engineer, the co-accused Rajinder Sharma. In this connection, he drew our attention
to the evidence of P.W.14, the Executive Engineer who denied the appellant's
suggestion that any complaint was made to him against the Assistant Engineer. The
plea of whistle-blower has not been stated by the appellant even in statement under
Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In fact, he had denied his participation
in the crime in any way. At no point of time, did he raise any objection about the
alleged coercion and threat by the co-accused. Appellant was not a casual daily
wager and could not have been removed by the co-accused. In that view of the matter,
we are of the opinion that the plea raised by the appellant of whistle blower
deserves to be rejected. In view of what we have found on fact, it is not
necessary to refer to the decisions of this Court relied on by the appellant.
Panda, then submits that the State Government while granting sanction has taken
into account the entry of fictitious names of casual labourer in muster roll
no. 146 but charge was framed in respect of muster-roll no. 230 and therefore the
conviction of the appellant is vitiated on this ground alone. This submission
need not detain us much. As stated earlier, the appellant has been convicted
for his role in relation to muster roll no. 146 and 230. Admittedly, while sanctioning
prosecution, the role of the appellant in relation to muster roll no. 146 has been
adverted to. Therefore, his conviction can not be held to be illegal only for
the reason that no reference was made to muster-roll no. 230 in the sanction-order.
Panda, lastly submits that the occurrence had taken place as back in the year
1984 and the appellant had not only suffered ordeal of trial and appeal for
long 27 years and infact lost the job also and in such a situation, the ends of
justice shall be met if the sentence of the appellant is reduced to the period
already undergone. It is relevant to state that the High Court while dismissing
the appeal has reduced the substantive sentence to one year each for the
offence under Section 120-B, 467, 468, 471 and 420 of the IPC besides Section
5(2) of the P.C. Act. We are of the opinion that sentence awarded to the appellant
in the facts and circumstances of the case cannot be said to be excessive,
calling for interference in this appeal.
the result, we do not find any merit in the appeal and it is dismissed
( HARJIT SINGH BEDI )
( CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD )