Sajjan Singh Vs. The State of Punjab
 INSC 180 (28 August 1963)
28/08/1963 GUPTA, K.C. DAS GUPTA, K.C. DAS
CITATION: 1964 AIR 464 1964 SCR (4) 630
RF 1977 SC2091 (5) RF 1979 SC 602 (6) R 1981
Corruption-Criminal misconduct in discharge
of official duty Conviction based on presumption-Validity-Prevention of
Corruption Act, 1947, (2 of 1947), s. 5(3).
The appellant was an overseer and then became
a Sub-Divisional Officer in the Irrigation Department. On the basis of a
complaint, a case was registered against him and after sanction by the
Government had been obtained for his prosecution under s. 5(2) of the
Prevention of Corruption Act and s. 161/165 of the Indian Penal Code he was
tried by the special judge on a charge under s. 5(2) of the Act. The allegation
made was that the appellant demanded his commission from the contractors on the
cheques issued to them and on are Used he started with-holding their payments
and putting obstacles in the smooth execution of the work entrusted to them.
The commission was then paid from time to time and the payments were fully
entered in the regular Rokar and Khata Bhais. The trial court accepted the
prosecution case and found that the total pecuniary resources and property in
appellant's possession or in the possession of his wife and son were
disproportionate to his known sources of income and that such possession had
not been satisfactorily accounted for. On these findings the presumption under
s. 5(3) of the Prevention of Corruption Act was raised and the appellant was
convicted and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one year and a fine of Rs.
5,000/in default, rigorous imprisonment for six months.
On appeal, the conviction and sentence were
confirmed by the High Court. The two learned judges of the High Court, however,
differed on the question whether pecuniary resources and property acquired
before the Prevention of Corruption Act came into force, could be taken into
consideration for the purpose of s. 5(3) of the Act.
Held, that to take into consideration the
pecuniary resources or property in the possession of the accused or any other
person on his behalf which were acquired before the date of the Act, was in no
way giving the Act a retrospective operation.
Maxwell on Interpretation of statutes, 11th
Edition, P. 210 and State of Bomaby v. Vishnu Ramchandra,  2 S.C.R. 26,
Sub-section 3 of s. 5 does not create a new
kind of offence.
It merely prescribes a rule of evidence for
the purpose of proving the offence of criminal misconduct as defined in s. 5(l)
for which an accused person is already under trial.
C.S.D. Swamy v. The State, [196 of 1 S.C.R.
461 and Surajpal Singh v. State of U.P.  2 S.C.R. 971, relied on.
631 On proper construction of the words of
the section and giving them their plain and natural meaning, it is clear, that
the pecuniary resources and property in possession of the accused person or any
other person on his behalf have to be taken into consideration for the purpose
of s. 5(3), whether these were acquired before or after the Act came into
While it is quite true that pecuniary
resources and property are themselves sources of income, that does not present
any difficulty in understanding a position that at a particular point of time
the total pecuniary resources or property can be regarded as assets, and an
attempt being made to see whether the known sources of income, including, it
may be, these very items of property, in the past, could yield such income as
to explain reasonably the emergence of these assets at this point of time.
There is no warrant for the proposition that
where the law provides that in certain circumstances a presumption shall be
made against the accused, the prosecution is barred from adducing evidence in
support of its case if it wants to rely on the presumption.
D. Del Vecchio v. Bowers, 296 U.S. 280; 80 L.
ed. 229 and Bratty v. Attorney General for Northern Ireland,  3 All E.R.
523, held inapplicable.
The facts proved in this case raise a
presumption under s. 5(3) of the Act and the appellant's conviction must be
maintained on the basis of that presumption.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 98 of 1960.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated January 20, 1960 of the Punjab High Court in Criminal Appeal No.
683 of 1957.
I. M. Lall and B. N. Kirpal, for the
B. K. Khanna and R. N. Sachthey, for the
August 28, 1963. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by DAS GUPTA J.-Sajjan Singh, son of Chanda Singh, joined the
service of the Punjab Government in January 1922 as an Overseer in the
Irrigation Department. He continued as Overseer till July 1944 when he became a
Sub-divisional Officer in the Department. From the date till May 1947 he worked
as Sub-Divisional Officer in that part of Punjab which has now gone to West
Pakistan. From November 30, 1947 to September 26, 1962 he was employed as
Sub-Divisional Officer of Drauli Sub-Division of the Nangal Circle, except for
a short break from November 8, 1950 to April 3, 1951, when he was on leave. The
work of excavation-for the Nangal Project 632 within the Drauli Sub-Division
was carried out by several contractors, including Ramdas Chhankanda Ram and
M/s. Ramdas Jagdish Ram. On December 7, 1952, the General Manager, Bhakra Dam,
made a complaint in writing to the Superintendent of Police, Hoshiarpur,
alleging that Sajjan Singh and some other officials subordinate to him had by
illegal and corrupt means and by abusing their position as public servants,
dishonestly and fraudulently, obtained illegal gratification from the
contractors Ramdas Chhankanda Ram and M/s. Ram Das Jagdish Ram by withholding
their payments and putting various obstacles in the smooth execution of the
work entrusted to them. A case under s.
45(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act,
1947 was registered on the basis of this complaint, which was treated as a
first information report and after sanction of the Government of Punjab had
been obtained for the prosecution of Sajjan Singh under s. 5(2) of the
Prevention of Corruption Act and s. 161/165 of the Indian Penal Code, Sajjan
Singh was tried by the Special Judge, Ambala, on a charge under s. 5(2) of the
The learned Special judge convicted him under
s. 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and sentenced him to rigorous
imprisonment for one year and a fine of Rs. 5000/in default of payment of fine,
he was directed to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months. The conviction
and sentence were confirmed by the Punjab High Court, on appeal. The High Court
however rejected the State's application for enhancement of the sentence. The
present appeal is by Sajjan Singh against his conviction and sentence under s. 5(2)
of the Prevention of Corruption Act by special leave of this Court.
The prosecution case is that after work had
been done by the firm Ramdas Chhankandas for several months, and some 'running'
payments had been received without difficulty, the appellant demanded from Ram
Das, one of the partners of the firm, his commission on the cheques issued to
the partnership firm. It is said that Ram Das at first refused.
But, ultimately when the appellant started
unnecessary criticism of the work done by them and even withholding some
running payments the partners of the firm decided to pay commission to him as
demanded. The 633 first payments, it is said, was made on March 21, 1949 and
further payments were thereafter made from time to time.
The case is that the partnership paid
altogether a sum of Rs. 10,500/in cash as commission to the appellant, besides
paying Rs. 2,000/to him for payment to the Executive Engineer and Rs. 241/12/made
up of small sums paid on different occasions on behalf of the accused. All
these payments made to the appellant were fully entered in the regular Rokar
and Khata Bhais of the partnership under a fictitious name of Jhalu Singh,
Jamadar, though a few of the later payments were entered in these books in
Sajjan Singh's own name. In order to allay suspicion some fictitious credit
entries were also made in the books. The prosecution also alleged payment to
the appellant of Rs. 1,800/by another firm M/s. Ram Das Jagdish Ram. But as
that has not been found to be proved it is un necessary to mention details of
the allegations in that connection.
To prove its case against the appellant the
prosecution relied on the testimony of three partners of the firm who claimed
to have made payments and on various entries in the several books of account of
the firm. The prosecution also tried to prove the guilt of the accused by
showing that the pecuniary resources and property that were in the appellant's
possession or in the possession of his wife, Dava Kaur, and his son, Bhupinder
Singh, on his behalf we are disproportionate to the appellant's known sources
The learned Special judge mentioned the
possession of pecuniary resources and property disproportionate to his known
sources of income in the charge framed against the accused. According to the
prosecution the total assets held by the appellant, and his wife, Dava Kaur,
and his son Bhupinder Singh on his behalf, on December 7, 1952 amounted to Rs.
1,47,502/12/-, while his total emoulments upto the period of the charge would
come to about Rs. 80,000/-.
The main defence of the appellant as regards
this allegation of possession of pecuniary resources and property
disproportionate to his known sources of income was that the property and
pecuniary resources held by his wife and son were not held on his behalf and
that what, was in his possession amounted to less than Rs. 50,000/and can by no
means be said to be disproportionate to his known 41--2 S. C. India/64.
634 sources of income. In denying the charge
against him the appellant also contended that false evidence had been given by
the three partners and false and fictitious books prepared by them in support
of their own false testimony.
The learned Special judge rejected the
defence contention that the account books on which the prosecution relied had
not been kept regularly in the course of business and held the entries therein
to be relevant under s. 34 of the Indian Evidence Act. He accepted the defence
contention that evidence of the partners who were in the position of
accomplices required independent corroboration and also that the account books
maintained by themselves would not amount to independent corroboration.
Independent corroboration was however in the opinion of the learned Judge
furnished by the fact that some admitted and proved items of payment were
interspersed in the entire account books. The learned judge also accepted the
prosecution story as regards the possession of pecuniary resources and property
by the appellant's wife and his son on his behalf and adding these to what was
in the appellant's own possession he found that the total pecuniary resources
and property in his possession or in the possession of his wife and son were
disproportionate to his known sources of income, and that such possession had
not been satisfactorily accounted for.
He concluded that the presumption under s.
5(3) of the Prevention of Corruption Act was attracted. On all these findings
he found the appellant guilty of the charge for criminal misconduct in the
discharge of his duties and convicted and sentenced him as, stated above.
The two learned judges of the Punjab High
Court who heard the appeal differed on the question whether pecuniary resources
and property acquired before March 11, 1947, when the Prevention of Corruption
Act came into force, could be taken into consideration for the purpose of s. 5
(3) of the Act. In the opinion of Mr. Justice Harbans Singh these could not be
taken into consideration-. Taking into consideration the assets acquired by the
appellant after January 1948 the learned judges held that these came to just
above Rs. 20,000/and could not be held to be disproportionate to his known
sources of income. The other learned Judge, Mr. Justice 635 Capoor, was of
opinion that pecuniary resources and property acquired prior to March 11, 1947
had also to be taken into consideration in applying s. 5 (3) of the Prevention
of Corruption Act if they were in the possession of the accused or anybody on
his behalf, on the date when the complaint was lodged. He agreed with the
Special judge that certain assets possessed by Daya Kaur and Bhupinder Singh
were possessed by them on behalf of the appellant and that those possessed by
him, or by his wife and son on his behalf were much in excess of his known
sources of income, even without making any allowance for his house-hold
expenses. Mr. justice Capoor further held that if the pecuniary resources or
property acquired during the period April 1, 1947 to June 1, 1950 as suggested
on behalf of the appellant were considered such assets held by the appellant or
any other person on his behalf were more than double of the known sources of
his income without making any allowance whatever for the appellant's house-hold
expenses. In the opinion of the learned judge a presumption under subsection 3
of s. 5 of the Act therefore arose that the appellant had committed the
offence, as the appellant had not been able to prove to the contrary. Both the
learned judges agreed that the witnesses who gave direct evidence about the
payment of illegal gratification could not be relied upon without independent
corroboration and that the entries in the books of account did by themselves
amount to such corroboration, but that the fact of admitted and proved items
being interspersed in the entire account furnished the required corroboration.
In the result, as has been already stated, the learned judges affirmed the
conviction and sentence.
In support of the appeal Mr. 1. M. Lall has
attacked the finding that the books of account were kept regularly in the
course of business and has contended that the entries therein were not relevant
under s. 34 of the Indian Evidence Act. He further contended that even if they
be relevant evidence the Special judge as also the High Court while rightly
thinking that they by themselves did not amount to independent corroboration,
were in error when they thought that the fact of certain admitted entries being
interspersed through the books of account furnished the 636 necessary
independent corroboration. Mr. Lall has also argued that the Special Judge as
well as Mr. justice Capoor in the High Court were wrong in drawing a
presumption under s. 5(3) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
We shall first consider the question whether
on the evidence on the record a presumption under s. 5(3) of the Prevention of
Corruption Act arose. It is useful to remember that the first sub-section of s.
5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act mentions in the four clauses a, b, c and
d, the acts on the commission of which a public servant is said to have
committed an offence of criminal misconduct in the discharge of his duties. The
second subsection prescribes the penalty for that offence. The third subsection
is in these words:"In any trial of an offence punishable under sub-section
(2) the fact that the accused person or any other person on his behalf is in
possession, for which the accused person cannot satisfactorily account, of
pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income
may be proved, and on such proof the court shall presume, unless the contrary
is proved, that the accused person is guilty of criminal. misconduct in the
discharge of his official duty and his conviction there for shall not be
invalid by reason only that it is based solely on such presumption." This
sub-section thus provides an additional mode of proving an offence punishable
under sub-s. 2 for which any accused person is being tried. This additional
mode is by proving the extent of the pecuniary resources or property in the
possession of the accused or any other person on his behalf and thereafter
showing that this is disproportionate to his known sources of income and that
the accused person cannot satisfactorily account for such possession. If these
facts are proved the section makes it obligatory on the Court to presume that
the accused person is guilty of criminal misconduct in the discharge of his
official duty, unless the contrary, i.e., that he was not so guilty is proved
by the accused. The section goes on to say that the conviction for an offence
of criminal misconduct shall not be invalid by reason only that it is based
solely on such presumption.
637 This is a deliberate departure from the
ordinary principle of criminal jurisprudence, under which the burden of proving
the guilt of the accused in criminal proceedings lies all the way on the
prosecution. Under the provision of this subsection the burden on the
prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused must be held to be discharged if
certain facts as mentioned therein arc proved; and then the burden shifts to
the accused and the accused has to prove that in spite of the assets being
disproportionate to his known sources of income, he is not guilty of the
offence. There can be no doubt that the language of such a special provision
must be strictly construed. if the words are capable of two constructions, one
of which is more favorable to the accused than the other, the Court will be
justified in accepting the one which is more favourable to the accused. There
can be no Justification however for adding any words to make the provision of
law less stringent than the legislature has made it.
Mr. Lall contends that when the section
speaks of the accused being in possession of pecuniary resources or property
disproportionate to his known sources of income only pecuniary resources or
property acquired after the date of the Act is meant. To think otherwise, says
the learned Counsel, would be to give the Act retrospective operation and for
this there is no 'Justification. We agree with the learned Counsel that the Act
has no retrospective operation.
We are unable to agree however that to take
into consideration the pecuniary resources or property in the possession of the
accused or any other person on his behalf which are acquired before the date of
the Act is in any way giving the Act a retrospective operation.
A statute cannot be said to be retrospective
"because a part of the requisites for its action is drawn from a time
antecedent to its passing". (Maxwell on interpretation of Statutes, 11th
Edition, p. 211; See also State of Maharashtra v. Vishnu Ramchandra(l)). Notice
must be taken in this connection of a suggestion made by the learned Counsel
that in effect sub-section 3 of section 5 creates a new offence in the
discharge of official duty, different from what is defined in the four clauses
of s. 5(l). It is said that the act of being in possession of pecuniary
resources or pro(1)  2 S.C.R. 26.
638 perty disproportionate to known sources
of income, if it cannot be satisfactorily accounted for, is said by this subsection
to constitute the offence of criminal misconduct in addition to those other
acts mentioned in cls. a, b, c and d of s. 5(l) which constitute the offence of
criminal misconduct. On the basis of this contention the further argument is
built that if the pecuniary resources or property acquired before the date of
the Act is taken into consideration under sub-section 3 what is in fact being
done is that a person is being convicted for the acquisition of pecuniary
resources or property, though it was not in violation of a law in force at the
time of the commission of such act of acquisition. If this argument were
correct a conviction of a person under the presumption raised under the s. 5(3)
in respect of pecuniary resources or property acquired before the Prevention of
Corruption Act would be a breach of fundamental rights under Art. 20(l) of the
Constitution and so it would be proper for the Court to construe s. 5(3) in a
way so as not to include possession of pecuniary resources or property acquired
before the Act for the purpose of that subsection. The basis of the argument
that s. 5(3) creates a new kind of offence of criminal misconduct by a public
servant in the discharge of his official duty is however unsound. The sub-section
does nothing of the kind. It merely prescribes a rule of evidence for the
purpose of proving the offence of criminal misconduct as defined in s. 5(1) for
which an accused person is already under trial. It was so held by this Court in
C.D.S. Swamy v. The State(1) and again in Surajpal Singh v. State of U.p.(2).
It is only when a trial has commenced for criminal misconduct by doing one or
more of the acts mentioned in cls. a, b, c and d of s. 5(l) that sub-s 3 can
come into operation. When there is such a trial, which necessarily must be in
respect of acts committed after the Prevention of Corruption Act came into
force, sub-section 3 places in the hands of the prosecution a new mode of
proving an offence with which an accused has already been charged.
Looking at the words of the section and
giving them their plain and natural meaning we find it impossible to say that
pecuniary resources and property acquired before (1)  1 S.C.R. 461. (2)
 1 2 S.C.R. 971.
639 the date on which the Prevention of
Corruption Act came into force should not be taken into account even if in
possession of the accused or any other person on his behalf. To accept the
contention that such pecuniary resources or property should not be taken into
consideration one has to read into the section the additional words "if
acquired after the date of this Act" after the word "property".
For this there is no justification.
It may also be mentioned that if pecuniary
resources or property acquired before the date of commencement of the Act were
to be left out of account in applying subs. 3 of s. 5 it would be proper and
reasonable to limit the receipt of income against which the proportion is to be
considered also to the period after the Act. On the face of it this would lead
to a curious and anomalous position by no means satisfactory or helpful to the
accused himself. For, the income received during the years previous to the
commencement of the Act may have helped in the acquisition of property after
the commencement of the Act. From whatever point we look at the matter it seems
to us clear that the pecuniary resources and property in the possession of the
accused person or any other person on his behalf have to be taken into
consideration for the purpose of subsection 3 of section 5, whether these were
acquired before or after the Act came into force.
Mention has next to be made of the learned
Counsel's submission that the section is meaningless. According to the learned
Counsel, every pecuniary resource or property is itself a source of income and
therefore it is a contradiction in terms to say that the pecuniary resources or
property can be disproportionate to the known sources of income. This argument
is wholly misconceived. While it is quite true that pecuniary resources and
property are themselves sources of income that does not present any difficulty
in understanding a position that at a particular point of time the total
pecuniary resources or property can be regarded as assets, and an attempt being
made to see whether the known sources of income including, it may be, these
very items of property in the past could yield such income as to explain
reasonably the emergence of these assets at this point of time.
Lastly it was contented by Mr. Lall that no
presumption under s. 5(3) can arise if the prosecution has adduced other
evidence in support of its case. According to the learned Counsel, s. 5(3) is
at the most an alternative mode of establishing the guilt of the accused which
can be availed of only if the usual method of proving his guilt by direct and
circumstantial evidence is not used. For this astonishing proposition we can
find no support either in principle or authority.
Mr. Lall sought assistance for his arguments
from a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America in D. Del
Vecchio v. Botvers(1). What fell to be considered in that case was whether a
presumption created by s. 20(d) of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers'
Compensation Act that the death of an employee was not suicidal arose where
evidence had been adduced by both sides on the question whether the death was
suicidal or not. The Court of Appeal had held that as the evidence on the issue
of accident or suicide was in its judgment evenly balanced the presumption
under s. 20 must tip the scales in favour of accident. This decision was
reversed by the learned Judges of the Supreme Court. Section 20 which provided
for the presumption ran thus:-"In any proceedings for the enforcement of a
claim for compensation...... it shall be presumed, in the absence of
substantial evidence to contrary-that the injury was not occasioned by the
wailful intention of the injured employee to injure or kill himself or
another." On the very words of the section the presumption against suicide
would arise only if substantial evidence had not been adduced to support the
theory of suicide. It was in view of these words that the learned judges
observed:-.lm15 "The statement in the act that the evidence to overcome
the effect of the presumption must be substantial adds nothing to the well
understood principle that a finding must be supported by evidence. Once the
employer has carried his burden by offering testimony sufficient to justify a
finding of suicide, the presumption falls out of the case. It never had and
cannot acquire the attribute of evidence in the claimant's favour. Its only
office is to control the result where (1)296 U.S. 280 : 80 L. ed. 229.
641 there is an entire lack of competent
evidence. If the employer alone adduces evidence which tends to support the
theory of suicide, the case must be decided upon that evidence. Where the
claimant offers substantial evidence in opposition, as was the case here, the
issue must be resolved upon the whole body of proof pro and con." The
whole decision turns upon the words 'in the absence of substantial
evidence". These or similar words are conspicuous by their absence in
sub-s. 3 of s. 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, and consequently, Del Vecchio's
Case(1) is of no assistance.
Mr. Lall then drew our attention to an
observation of Lord Denning in Bratty v. Attorney General for Northern
Ireland(2) where speaking about the presumption that every man has sufficient
mental capacity to be responsible for his crimes, the Lord Justice observed
that the presumption takes the place of evidence. Similarly, argues Mr. Lall,
the presumption under s. 5(3) of the Prevention Corruption Act also merely
"takes the place" of evidence. So, he says, it can arise only if no
evidence has been adduced. We are not prepared to agree however that when the
Lord Justice used the words "a presumption takes the place of
evidence" he meant that if some evidence had been offered by the
prosecution the prosecution could not benefit by the presumption. We see no
warrant for the proposition that where the law provides that in certain
circumstances a presumption shall be made against the accused the prosecution
is barred from adducing evidence in support of its case if it wants to rely on
Turning now to the question whether the facts
and circumstances proved in this case raise a presumption under s. 5(3), we
have to examine first whether certain pecuniary resources or property in
possession of Daya Kaur and those in possession of Bhupinder Singh were
possessed by them on behalf of the appellant as alleged by the prosecution. On
December 7, 1952, Bhupinder Singh has been proved to have been in possession
of: (1) Rs. 28,998/7/3/in the Punjab National Bank; (2) Rs. 20,000/in fixed
deposit with the Bank of Patiala at Doraha (3) Rs. 5,577/(1)226 U.S. 280. (2)
 3 All. E.R. p. 523 at 535.
642 in the Imperial Bank of India at Moga;
(4) Rs. 237/8/3/in the Savings Bank Account in the Bank of Patiala at Doraha;
and (5) Half share in a plot of land in
Ludhiana of the value Rs. 11,000/-.
Bhupinder Singh has given evidence (as the
11th witness for the defence) and has tried to support his father's case that
none of the properties were held by him on behalf of his father. Bhupinder
Singh has been in military service since 1949 and was at the time when he gave
evidence a Captain in the Indian Army. If the bank deposits mentioned above had
been made by him after he joined military service there might have been strong
reason for thinking that they were his own money. That however is not the
position. Out of the sum of Rs. 28,998/with the Punjab National Bank a part is
admittedly interest; the remainder, viz., about Rs.
26,000/was deposited by Bhupinder Singh in
his account long before 1949 when he joined military service. His explanation
as to how he got this money is that Rs. 20,200/was received by him from Udhe
Singh in December 1945 and Rs. 6,000/was given to him by his grand-father
Udhe Singh has given evidence in support of
the first part of the story and has said that he paid Rs. 20,200/to Bhupinder
Singh in payment of what he owed to Bhupinder Singh's grandfather Chanda Singh
and to his father Sajjan Singh. When asked why he made the payments to
Bhupinder Singh, son of Sajjan Singh instead of to Chanda Singh or to Chanda
Sing's son Surjan Singh, Udhe Singh replied that he did so "because my
account was with Sardar Sajjan Singh." Udhe Singh it has to be remembered
is a close relation of Sajjan Singh, Sajjan Singh's father Chanda Singh being
Udhe Singh's mother's brother.
On a careful consideration of the evidence of
these two witnesses, Bhupinder Singh and Udhe Singh and also the registered
letter which was produced to show that a pucca receipt was demanded for an
alleged payment of Rs. 20,200/we have come to the conclusion that the Special
Judge has rightly disbelieved the story that this sum of Rs. 20,000/was paid by
Udhe Singh to Bhupinder Singh. It has to be noticed that even if this story of
payment was believed that would not improve the appellant's case. For,
according to Udhe Singh this payment was 643 made by him to Bbupinder Singh on
behalf of his father. In any case, therefore, this amount of Rs. 20,200/was
Sajjan Singh's money. As regards the other amount of Rs. 6000/which formed part
of the deposits in the Punjab National Bank and a further sum of Rs. 20,000/in
fixed deposit with the Bank of Patiala the defence case as sought to be proved
by Bhupinder Singh was that these were received by him from his grand-father
Chanda Singh. The learned Special judge disbelieved the story and on a
consideration of the reasons given by him we are of opinion that his conclusion
When it is remembered that Bhupinder Singh
was at the relevant dates a student with no independent income or property of
his own the reasonable conclusion from the rejection of his story about these
amount is, as held by the Special Judge, that these were possessed by him on
behalf of his father, Sajjan Singh. We are also convinced that the Special
Judge was right in his conclusion that Rs. 5,577/in the Imperial Bank of India
at Moga, Rs. 237/8/3 in the Savings Bank Account in the Bank of Patiala at
Doraha and the half share in a plot of land in Ludhiana of the value of Rs.
11,000/standing in the name of Bhupinder Singh were held by Bhupinder Singh on
behalf of his father, Sajjan Singh. It has to be mentioned that Mr. Justice
Capoor in the High Court agreed with these conclusions, while the other learned
judge (Mr. Justice Harbans Singh) did not examine this question at all being
wrongly of the opinion that the properties acquired prior to March 11, 1947
should not be taken into consideration.
Thus even if we leave out of account the
amount of Rs. 26,500/standing in the name of appellant's wife Daya Kaur which
according to the prosecution was held by her on behalf of her husband, Sajjan
Singh, it must be held to be clearly established that the pecuniary resources
or property in possession of Sajjan Singh and his son, Bhupinder Singh, on his
behalf amounted to more than Rs. 1,20,000/-. The question then is: Was this
disproportionate to the appellant's known sources of income? As was held by
this Court in Swamy's Case(1) "the expression 'known sources of income'
must have reference to (1)  1 S.C.R. 461.
644 sources known to the prosecution on a
thorough investigation of the case" and that it could not be contended
that 'known sources of income' meant sources known to the accused. In the
present case the principal source of income known to the prosecution was what
the appellant received as his salary.
The total amount received by the appellant
throughout the period of his service has been shown to be slightly less than
Rs. 80,000/-. The appellant claimed to have received considerable amounts as
traveling allowance a Overseer and S.D.O. and also as horse and conveyance
allowance. For the period of his service prior to May 1947, the records which
would have shown what the accused drew as traveling allowance were not
available. The Special judge found that from May 1947 upto January 1953 the
appellant got Rs. 6,504/6/as traveling allowance. On that basis he also held
that for the period of service as S.D.O. prior to May 1947 he may have got
about Rs. 5,000/at the most. For the period of his service as Overseer, the
learned Special judge held that, the appellant did not get more than Rs. 100/a
year as travelling allowance, including the horse allowance.
No reasonable objection can be taken to the
conclusion recorded by the Special Judge as regards the travelling allowance
drawn by the appellant for the period of his service as S.D.O. It was urged
however that Rs. 100/a year ,is travelling allowance is too low an estimate for
his services as Overseer. As the relevant papers are not available it would be
proper to make a liberal estimate under this head favourable to the appellant.
Even at the most liberal estimate it appears to us that the total receipts as
travelling allowance as Overseer could not have exceeded Rs. 5,000/-.
One cannot also forget that much of what is
received as travelling allowance has to be spent by the officer concerned in
travelling expenses itself. For many officers it 'IS not unlikely that
travelling allowance would fall short of these expenses and they would have to
meet the deficit from their own pocket. The total receipt that accrued to the
appellant as the savings out of travelling allowance inclusive of horse
allowance and conveyance allowance, could not reasonably be held to have
exceeded Rs. 10,000/at the most. Adding these to what he received as salary and
also as Nangal Compensatory allowance the total in645 come received during the
years would be about Rs. 93,000/-.
It also appears that income by way of
interest was earned by the appellant on his provident fund and also the bank
deposits standing in his own name or in the name of his son, Bhupinder Singh.
The income under this head appears to be about Rs. 10,000/-.
The total receipts by the appellant from his
known sources of income thus appears to be about Rs. 1,03,000/-. If nothing out
of this had to be spent for maintaining himself and his family during all these
years from 1922 to 1952 there might have been ground for saying that the assets
in the appellant's possession, through himself or through his son (Rs. 1,20,000/-)
were not disproportionate to his known sources of income. One cannot however
live on nothing; and however frugally the appellant may have lived it appears
to us clear that at least Rs. 100/per month must have been his average expenses
throughout these years-taking the years of high prices and low prices together.
These expenses therefore cut a big slice of over Rs. 36,000/from what he
received. The assets of Rs. 1,20,000/have therefore to be compared with a net
income of Rs. 67,000/-. They are clearly disproportionate--indeed highly
Mr. Lall stressed the fact that the
legislature had not chosen to indicate what proportion would be considered
disproportionate and he argued on that basis that the Court should take a
liberal view of the excess of the assets over the receipts from the known
sources of income. There is some force in this argument. But taking the most
liberal view, we do not think it is possible for any reasonable man to say that
assets to the extent of Rs. 1,20,000/is anything but disproportionate to a net
income of Rs.
1,03,000/out of which at least Rs. 36,000/must
have been spent in living expenses.
The next question is : Has the appellant
satisfactorily accounted for these disproportionately high assets? The Speical
judge has examined this question carefully and rejected as untrustworthy the
appellant's story of certain receipts from one Kabul Singh, his son Teja Singh,
and from his father, Chanda Singh. These conclusions appear to us to be based
on good and sufficient reasons and we can see nothing that would justify us in
interfering with these.
646 The prosecution has thus proved facts on
which it becomes the duty of the Court to assume that the accused has committed
the offence with which he is charged, unless the contrary is proved by him. Mr.
Lall has submitted that if the other evidence on which the prosecution relied
to prove its case against the appellant is examined by us, he will be able to
satisfy us that evidence is wholly insufficient to prove the guilt of the
accused. It has to be remembered however that the fact-assuming it to be a fact
in this case that the prosecution has failed to prove by other evidence the
guilt of the accused, does not entitle the Court to say that the accused has succeeded
in proving that he did not commit the offence.
Our attention was drawn in this connection to
this Court's decision in Surajpal Singh's Case(1) where this Court set aside
the conviction of the appellant Surajpal Singh on the basis of the presumption
under s. 5(3). What happened in that case was that though the accused had been
charged with having committed the offence of criminal misconduct in the
discharge of his duty by doing the acts mentioned in cl. (c) of sub-s. 1 of s.
5, the Special Judge and the High Court convicted him by invoking the rule of
presumption laid down in sub-s. 3 of s. 5, of an offence under cl. (d) of s.
This Court held that it was not open to the
Courts to do so.
This case is however no authority for the
proposition that the courts could not have convicted the accused for an offence
under s. 5 ( 1) (c) for which he had been charged.
On the contrary it seems to be a clear
authority against such a view. After pointing out that the charge against the
appellant was that he has dishonestly and fraudulently misappropriated or
otherwise converted for his own use property entrusted to him, this Court
observed:-"It was not open to the learned Special Judge to have convicted
the appellant of that offence by invoking the rule of presumption laid down in
sub-section (3). He did not however to do so. On the contrary he acquitted the
appellant on that charge. Therefore, learned Counsel has submitted that by
calling in aid the rule of presumption in sub-s. 3 the appellant could not be
found guilty of any other type of criminal misconduct (1)  2 S.C.R. 971.
647 referred to in cls. (a), (b) or (d) of
sub-s. (1) in respect of which there was no charge against the appellant.
We consider that the above argument of
learned Counsel for the appellant is correct and must be accepted." The
appellant's Counsel is not in a position to submit that there is evidence on
the record which would satisfy the Court that the accused has "proved the
contrary", that is, that he had not committed the offence with which he
We have therefore come to the conclusion that
the facts proved in this case raise a presumption under s. 5(3) of the
Prevention of Corruption Act and the appellant's conviction of the offence with
which he was charged must be maintained on the basis of that presumption. In
this view of the matter we do not propose to consider whether the High Court
was right in basing its conclusion also on the other evidence adduced in the
case to prove the actual payment of illegal gratification by the partners of
the firm M/s. Ramdas Chhankanda Ram.
Lastly, Mr. Lall prayed that the sentence be
reduced. The sentence imposed on the appellant is one year's rigorous
imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 5,000/-. Under s. 5(2) the minimum sentence has
to be one year's imprisonment, subject to the proviso that the Court may for
special reasons to be recorded in writing, impose a sentence of imprisonment of
less than one year. We are unable to see anything that would justify us in
taking action under the proviso.
In the result, the appeal is dismissed.