Prakash Chand Vs. State (Delhi
Administration)  INSC 232 (20 November 1978)
REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA (J) REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA
(J) SARKARIA, RANJIT SINGH
CITATION: 1979 AIR 400 1979 SCR (2) 330 1979
SCC (3) 90
CITATOR INFO :
D 1985 SC 79 (13)
Prevention of Corruption Act-Uncorroborated
testimony of trap witness, whether sufficient foundation for
conviction-Evidence Act S. 8, conduct of accused confronted by police officer
during investigation, admissibility whether executed by s. 162 Cr, P.C. 1974.
Prakash Chand an overseer-Section officer in
the Delhi Development Authority office, was charged under s. 5(1)(d) read with
8. 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruptions Act and s. 161 IPC, for demanding and
accepting Rs. 30/- bribe from the trap witness Ram Niwas Sharma. an architect,
for permitting him to make some necessary corrections in the building plans
submitted by him to comply with certain objections raised by the D.D.A. On a
report by Shri Sharma, an Inspector of Anti-Corruption Establishment,
accompanied him to the D.D.A office, with two panch witnesses and on receiving
a pre-arranged signal, entered the room and challenged the accused who was
stunned and kept mum. Then three pre-marked ten rupees notes were found in the
file dealing with Sharma's matter, the file was found under the table and the
accused had his foot on it. The panch witnesses did not fully support the
prosecution csse. They resiled from their earlier statements made in the course
of investigation were treated as hostile by the prosecution, and were
disbelieved by the Court. The accused was duly tried, convicted and sentenced,
and the conviction was upheld by the High Court.
It was contended that the uncorroborated
testimony of a trap witness was not sufficient to found the conviction? and
also that the evidence relating to the conduct of the accused when challanged
by the police inspector was excluded by. s. 162 Cr. P.C. 1974 and was
inadmissible in evidence.
Dismissing the appeal, the Court
HELD: (1) We are unable to agree that no
conviction can ever be based on the uncorroborated testimony of a "trap
witness". Where the circumtance justify it, a court may refuse to act upon
the uncorroborated testimony of a. trap witness. On the other hand a court may
well be justified in acting upon the uncorroborated testimony of a trap
witness, if the court is satisfied from the facts and circumstances of the case
that the trap witness is a witness of truth.
[334C-E] The State of Bihar v. Basawan Singh,
AIR 1958 SC 500, and Bhanuprasad Hariprasad Dave & Anr. v. The State of
Gujarat, AIR 1968 SC 1323, applied.
Ram Prakash Arora v. The State of Punjab, AIR
1973 SC 498 and Darshan Lal v. The Delhi Administration, AIR 1974 SC, 218;
2. The conduct of a person against whom an
offence is alleged, is admissible under s.8 of the Evidence Act. What is
excluded by s.162 Cr. P.C is the 331 Statement made to a police officer in the
course of investigation and not the evidence relating to the conduct of an
accused person (not amounting to a statement) when confronted or questioned by
a police officer, during she course of an investigation. [336G-H, 337A] D. V.
Narasimluan v. State, AIR 1969 A.P. 271, held inapplicable.
Himachal Pradesh Administration v. Om
Prakash, AIR 1972 SC 975 and Zwinglee Ariel v. State of M.P., AIR 1954 SC 15;
Rao Shiv Bahadur Singh & Anr. v. State of
Vindhya Pradesh, AIR 1954 SC 322 and State of Madras v.A.
Vaidyanatha Iyer, AIR 1958 SC 61, applied.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 193 of 1974.
Appeal by Special Leave from the Judgment and
order dated 1-3-1974 of The Delhi High Court in Criminal Appeal No. 119/72.
Frank Anthony, N. S. Das Bahl and Shushil
Kumar for the appellant.
E. C. Agarwala and R. M. Sachthey for the
ii The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
CHINNAPPA REDDY, J.-The appellant before us was convicted by the learned
Special Judge, Delhi of an offence under Section 5(1) (d) read with Section
5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 161 Indian Penal Code, and
sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for a period of one year on each
count. He was also sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 100/-. The conviction and
sentence were confirmed by the High Court and the appellant has come up in
appeal by special leave. The prosecution case briefly was as follows:
P.W. 6 Ram Niwas Sharma, an Architect by
profession prepared building plans for one M.L. Batla and submitted them to the
Delhi Development Authority for sanction. The plans were submitted on 6th May,
1969. They were rejected on 26th May, 1969. Revised plans were thereafter
submitted on 16th June, 1969. Certain objections were raised and in order to
comply with those objections P.W.6 went to the office of the Delhi Development
Authority on 11-7-1969. He met the accused who was overseer-Section officer and
asked him to be permitted to make necessary corrections in the building plans.
Instead of giving the file to P.W.6 the accused demanded a sum of Rs. 30/- as
bribe. P.W.6 told him that he did not have the money with him whereupon the
accused asked him to come on 14th July, 1969, in the afternoon with the money.
On 1 4th July, 1969. P.W.6 went to the AntiCorruption office at about 12 noon
and 332 gave a report Ex. P.W.1/A to P.W.9, an Inspector of the Anti-Corruption
Establishment. P.W.9 sent for P.Ws. 1 and 2 from the Sales Tax office. The
report made by P.W.6 was read over to them. Thereafter, P.W.6 produced three
ten rupee notes, the numbers of which were noted by P.W.9 in the presence of
the Panch witnesses P.Ws. 1 and 2. Thereafter it was arranged that they should
all proceed to the office of the Delhi Development Authority. There P.W. 5 was
to give the bribe to the accused and on his giving the bribe to the accused,
P.W. l was to give a signal to P.W. 9. As arranged P.W.6 went to the office of
the Delhi Development Authority alongwith Panch witnesses. The Inspector
stopped at the door of the room. P.W.6 went to the table of the accused and
asked him for the file for the purpose of making necessary corrections in the
building plans. The accused asked him if he has brought the money. On his
saying 'yes' the file was taken out and given to P.W. 6. As there were a number
of other files on the table the accused, P.W. 6 took the file to another table
at a distance of one or two paces from the table of the accused. After making
the corrections P.W. 6 handed over the file to the accused alongwith Its. 30/-.
Instead of taking the money the accused asked
P.W. 6 to place the money in the file which he accordingly did. The accused'
then took the file and placed it under the table, putting his foot on it. At
that stage P.W. 1 gave the agreed signal. P.W. 9 came to the room, disclosed
his identity to the accused and questioned him whether he had accepted Rs. 30/-
from P.W. 6. The accused was stunned and kept mum. P.W. 9 was then informed by
P.W. 6 and the two panch witness that the money was kept in the file under the
foot of the accused. P.W. 9 then took out the file and found the sum of Rs.
30/- in the file. The numbers of the currency notes were compared with the
numbers earlier noted at the Anti Corruption office. Thereafter, r w. g sent
the raid report.
On receipt of it, P.W. 7, Deputy
Superintendent of Police took over the investigation. After completing the
investigation, a charge-sheet was laid and the accused was duly tried,
convicted and sentenced as aforesaid.
The defence of the accused was that P.W. 6
met him on 11th July, 1969 and. wanted to make some corrections. He told him
that he should file the original sale deed. P.W. 6 then said that he should
come on Monday with the original sale deed. On 14th July 1969, P.W. 6 came to
his office and wanted the file for making the necessary. corrections. He took
out the file and gave it to P.W 6. P.W. 6 took the file to another table and
brought it back to him after Or 3 minutes. According to the accused, P.W. 6
must have put the money into the file when he had taken the file to the other
table. When the Police officer came in and questioned him about the receipt of
the 333 bribe his straight away told him that he had not taken any money from
P.W. 6. According to the accused, P.W. 6 was annoyed with him on 11th July,
1969, as he thought that he (accused) was delaying his work. He also stated that
Batla the owner of the plot had threatened
him with dire consequences because he had raised objections to the plans
submitted by him.
Both the Panch witnesses examined by the
prosecution did not fully support the prosecution case. They resiled from the
earlier statement made by them during the course of investigation. P.W. 1
stated that when P.W. 6 went into the room where the accused was working there
was some talk between P.W. 6 and the accused but he did not hear what it was.
He saw the accused taking out the file from the Almirah and giving it to P.W.
6. P.W. 6 took it to another table and was writing something in the file. Then
he took back the file to the accused. The accused was busy with his own work.
The complainant placed three ten Rupee notes
in the file and handed over the file to the accused who placed it under the
table near his feet. P.W.6 signalled to him and he gave the agreed signal. The
Inspector then entered the room and questioned the accused about the receipt of
the bribe. The accused denied the charge. He (P.W.1) then informed the
Inspector that the money was in the file. The money was recovered from the
file. The prosecution was permitted to cross-examine him. In cross-examination
his earlier statements to the Investigating officer were put to him. He
admitted in cross-examination that when questioned by the Inspector the accused
kept silent for some time as he was perplexed but thereafter told the Inspector
that he had not taken any money. The evidence of the other witness P.W. 2 was
on the same lines as P.W. 1 except that he stated that when questioned by the
Inspector the accused kept mum and was perplexed. P.W. 2 was also
cross-examined by the prosecution and the statements made by him to the
Investigating officer were put to him.
Shri Frank Anthony learned Counsel for the
appellant submitted that the conviction was based on the uncorroborated
testimony of P.W. 6 and that it should, therefore, be quashed. He urged that
Batla, Advocate who had employed P.W.6 as an Architect had been convicted in a
Criminal case and that the present complaint was inspired by Batla who had
previously threatened the accused with direct consequences. He pointed out that
P.Ws. 1 and 2 stated in their evidence that Batla was actually present in the Anti
Corruption office when they were called there by the Inspector. He invited our
attention to the circumstance that some persons were standing near the table of
the accused at the time when the bribe was supposed to have been given 334 and
argued that it was most unlikely that the accused would have demanded and
accepted the bribe when so many people were nearby. 'the learned Counsel
further urged that the evidence of P.W.6 that he went to the office of the
at 3 or 3.15 p.m. On 11th July, 1969 could
not be true as the noting on the file showed that the file was received at 4.45
p.m. It was also contended that the lower Courts had erred in law in relying
upon the statements made by P.Ws. 1 and 2 to the Police. It was argued that the
evidence of P.Ws. 1 and 2 rendered the evidence of P.W.6 entirely unacceptable.
It was further contended that the lower Courts were wrong in treating the
conduct of the accused when questioned by the Police officer as a circumstance
We are unable to agree with the submission of
Shri Anthony that no conviction can ever be based on the uncorroborated
testimony of a person in the position of P.W.6 who, for the sake of felicity
may be described as a "trap witness'. That a trap witness may perhaps be
considered as a person interested in the success of the trap may entitle a
Court to view his evidence as that of an interested witness. Where the
circumstances justify it, a Court may refuse to act upon the uncorroborated
testimony of a trap witness. On the other hand a Court may well be justified in
acting upon the uncorroborated testimony of a trap witness if the Court is
satisfied from the facts and circumstances of the case that the witness is a
witness of truth. Shri Anthony referred us to the decisions of this Court in
Ram Prakash Arora v. The State of Punjab,(1) and Darshan Lal v. The Delhi
Administration.(3) In the first case Grover, J., observed as follows:
"It must be remembered that both
Joginder Singh and Dalbir Singh P.Ws. were interested and partisan witnesses.
They were concerned in the success of the trap and their evidence must be
tested in the same way as that of any other interested witness and in a proper
case the court may look for independent corroboration before convicting the
All that Grover J., said was that in an
appropriate case corroboration may be sought and not that corroboration should
invariably be sought In the particular case it was found that the witnesses
could not be implicitly relied upon and, therefore, corroboration was
necessary. In the second case a string of circumstances was noticed which made
it necessary that evidence of the witnesses who had laid the trap should not be
acted upon without independent corroboration. This (1) A.I.R. 1973 S.C. 498.
(2) A.I.R. 1974 S.C. 218.
335 decision also does not lay down that the
uncorroborated testimony of a trap witness can never be acted upon. That the
law did not require any such corroboration was laid down in The State of Bihar.
v. Basawan Singh(1), and Bhanuprasad Hariprasad Dave and Anr v. The State of
Gujrat (2). In Bhanuprasad's case it was observed by Hegde J., as follows:
(at p. 1326):
"Now coming back to the contention that
the appellants could not have been convicted solely on the basis of the
evidence of Ramanlal and the police witnesses, we are of opinion that it is an
untenable contention. The utmost that can be said against Ramanlal, the Dy.
S.P., Erulker and Santramji is that they are partisan witnesses as they were
interested in the success of the trap laid by them. It cannot be said and it
was not said that they were accomplices.
Therefore the law does not require that their
evidence should be corroborated before being accepted as sufficient to found a
We have carefully gone through the evidence
of P.W. 6.
After perusing the evidence of P.W. 6 we are
left with the impression that P.W. 6 is a truthful witness, an impression which
we share with the High Court, the final Court of fact.
He has given evidence in a straight forward
manner and was unshaken in cross-examination. We are unable to discover any
reason to discredit his testimony. The suggestion which was made to him was
that he was aggrieved with the accused as he thought that he was unnecessarily
raising objections, That he had a hot altercation with him and that he went to
the Anti-Corruption office with the help of Shri Batla. The suggestions are
without substance. P.Ws. 1 and 2 no doubt stated that Shri Batla was present in
the Anti-Corruption office when they were called there by P.W. 9, the
We do not have the slightest doubt that P.Ws.
1 and 2 are not truthful witnesses and that they have given evidence in order
to accommodate the accused. Their evidence on important particulars was
contradicted by their earlier statements to the Police. Here we may refer to
the grievance of Shri Anthony that the Trial Judge and the High Court treated
the statements made by P.Ws. 1 and 2 to the Police as substantive evidence.
There is no justification for the grievance. The witnesses, who were treated as
hostile by the Prosecution were confronted with their earlier statements to the
Police and their evidence was rejected as it was contradicated by their earlier
statements. Such use of the statements (1) A.I.R. 1958 S.C. 500.
(2) A.I.R. 1968 S.C. 1323.
336 is premissible under s. 155 of the
Evidence Act and the proviso to S. 162(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure
read with S. 145, Evidence Act.
Corroboration to the evidence of P.W. 6, if
considered necessary, may be found in the following circumstances:
First, his evidence is corroborated by the
report Exh. PW. 1/A which he gave to P.W. 9 that day. Second, his evidence is
corroborated by the conduct of the accused when he was questioned by P.W. 9.
P.W. 6 stated that when P.W. 9 entered the room and questioned the accused
whether he had accepted Rs. 30/- from him, the accused was stunned and did not
reply. P.W.. 9 also stated that the accused kept mum when challenged. P.W. 2
stated that the accused did not reply and kept mum but added that the accused
was perplexed. Though P.W. 1 first stated in his chief examination that the
accused, when questioned denied having received any bribe, later he reluctantly
admitted ill cross-examination that the accused kept silent for some time as he
was perplexed and then denied that he had received any bribe. The immediate
reaction of the accused on being questioned by P.W. 9 is a circumstance which
corroborates the testimony of P.W. 6.
another a circumstance which corroborates the
testimony of P.W. 6 is that the accused was ready with the file and handed it
over to P.W. 6 as soon as he asked for it, indicating thereby that the
statement of P.W. 6 that the accused had asked him to come on the afternoon of
14th July, 1969, was true. Yet another important circumstance which
corroborates the evidence of P.W. 6 is that after P.W. 6 handed over the file
to the accused he kept it under the table.
It was contended by the learned Counsel for
the appellant that the evidence relating to the conduct of the accused when
challenged by the Inspector was inadmissible as it was hit by Section 167
Criminal Procedure Code. He relied on a decision of the Andhra Pradesh High
Court in D. V.
Narasimhan v. State.(1) We do not agree with
the submissions of Shri Anthony. There is a clear distinction between The
conduct of a person against whom an offence is alleged, which is admissible
under Section 8 of the Evidence Act, if such conduct is influenced by any fact
in issue or relevant fact and the statement made to a Police officer in the
course of an investigating which is hit by Section 162 Criminal Procedure Code.
What is excluded by Section 162 Criminal Procedure Code is the statement made
to a Police officer in the course of investigation and not the evidence
relating to the conduct of an accused person (not amounting to a statement)
when confronted or questioned by a Police officer during (1) A.I.R.. 1969 A.P.
337 the course of an investigation. For
example, the evidence of the circumstance, simpliciter, that an accused person
led a Police officer and pointed out the place where stolen articles or weapons
which might have been used in the commission of the offence were found hidden,
would be admissible as conduct, under Section 8 of the Evidence Act,
irrespective of whether any statement by the accused contemporaneously with or
antecedent to such conduct falls within the purview of Section 27 of the
Evidence Act [vide Himachal Pradesh Administration v. Om Prakash(1).
The decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court
on which Shri Anthony placed reliance does not support his contention. 'where
the learned Judges were not prepared to go into the question whether the
evidence relating to the conduct of the accused was admissible as that question
did not directly arise for consideration. On the other hand in Zwinglee Ariel
v. State of Madhya Pradesh(2), this Court appeared to be inclined to hold that
evidence to the effect that the accused started trembling and showed signs of
being frightened on being;, questioned by the Police officer, if proved, was
admissible, and, in Rao Shiv Bahadur Singh and Anr. v. State of Vindhya
Pradesh(3), and, State of Madras v.
A. Vaidyanatha Iyer(4), this Court actually
relied on evidence relating to the conduct on the accused on being confronted
by the Police officer with the allegation that he 'had received a bribe. In Rao
Shiv Bahadur Singh case the evidence relating to conduct on which reliance was
placed was to the effect that the accused was confused and could furnish no
explanation when questioned by the Police officer. In Vaidyanatha Iyer's case
also evidence to the effect that the accused was seen trembling and that he
silently produced the notes from the folds of his dhoti was acted upon. We,
therefore, do not see any reason to rule out the evidence relating to the
conduct of the accused, which lends circumstantial assurance to the testimony
of P.W. 6.
On a consideration of the entire evidence we
arc satisfied that the appellant was rightly convicted. The other points
mentioned by Shri Anthony are of a minor character and do not warrant any
interference under Article 136 of the Constitution. The appeal is accordingly
M.R. Appeal dismissed.
(1) A.I.R.. 1972 S.C. 975.
(2) A.I.R. 1954 S.C. 15.
(3) A.I.R. 1954 S.C. 322.
(4) A.I.R. 1958 S.C. 61.