Sanya Naik Vs. State of Karnataka  Insc 919 (14 September 2007)
& Harjit Singh Bedi
APPEAL NO 1218 /2007 (arising out of SLP(CRL) NO.2906/2007 HARJIT SINGH BEDI,J.
This appeal arises out of the following facts.
accused/appellant was at the relevant time working as a Village Accountant in Bisalkoppa
in Sirsi Taluk in the State of Karnataka.
PW.6 Nagaraj had purchased some agricultural land from Smt. Janaki on which he
approached the appellant and requested him to effect mutation entries in his
name and to issue the requisite record of rights. The appellant told Nagaraja
to come after a few days and thereafter told him that some objections had been
received with respect to the sale in his favour. It appears that an enquiry was
also held by the Deputy Tehsildar who passed an order in Nagaraja's favour.
Armed with this order, Nagaraja again approached the appellant requesting him
to enter the necessary mutation and to provide a certified copy of the revenue
documents. The accused demanded a sum of Rs.1,000/- from him for this purpose
and asked for Rs.500/- as an advance, which was reduced to Rs.450/-.
was apparently not willing to pay the amount, he approached the Lok Ayukta and
made a written complaint to the Police on which a case was registered by PW.9
Police Inspector Shambhulingappa. The said police officer requested the Asstt. Director
of Agriculture and Asstt. Director of the Employment Exchange, Karwar to depute
a Pancha each to report to him at 6 a.m. on 14.8.1996. Two Panchas PW.4 Mailarappa Neellappa Sunkad and R.N.Cholvekar
were accordingly deputed by the said officers. The Police Officer thereafter
informed the two Panchas as to what had transpired. Nagaraja also produced MO5,
four notes of hundred rupee denomination, and one note of fifty rupees
denomination. The Inspector also explained the phenolphthalein/Sodium Carbonate
procedure to the Panchas.
powder was then smeared on the currency notes where were thereafter handed over
to PW6. and PW.4 was instructed to accompany the appellant and he was asked to
make a signal for the raiding party after the money had been handed over.
party thereafter made its way to the office of the appellant. The two PWs. then
met the appellant. PW.6 stood near the table of the appellant whereas PW4 stood
at the door of the office. On enquiry from the appellant, PW-6 told him that he
had brought the money on which the appellant demanded the same from him and
asked him to put in on the table. The appellant thereafter took some files and
put them on the currency notes. PW-6 thereafter came out and gave a signal to
the Police Inspector on which PW9 rushed in and recovered the money and was
told by PW 4 and PW 6 that the appellant had demanded and received the money.
On completion of the investigation, the accused/appellant was charged for an
offence punishable under section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the
Prevention of Corruption Act.
trial court observed that the foremost question to be established by the
prosecution was as to the demand for money from the complainant, PW-6 and the
recovery of the money at the instance of the appellant. The Court also observed
that the evidence of PW4 and 6 with regard to the recovery of the cash from the
table under the files was not believable and the defence version that the money
had been put on the table surreptitiously and without the knowledge of the
accused/appellant appeared to be more plausible and worthy of acceptance. The
trial court accordingly acquitted the accused. The State thereafter preferred
an appeal before the High Court .The learned Judge in judgment dated 31.3.2003,
which has been impugned before us, however set aside the acquittal and
convicted the accused and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for 6 months
and to pay a fine of Rs.20,000/- and in default to suffer simple imprisonment
for 6 months observing that Nagaraja's statement as to the recovery had been
corroborated by PW4 an independent witness and that no doubt could be created
in the story merely because the currency notes had not been touched by the
appellant. The Court also observed that the plea of the appellant that there
was no occasion for the demand of money as the necessary documents had already
been prepared was not acceptable as the possibility that the documents had been
prepared in anticipation of the receipt of the money, could not be ruled out.
It is in these circumstances that this matter is before us by way of special
has been argued by the learned counsel for the appellant that the High Court
had ignored the principle, reiterated time and again by this Court, that a
finding of fact arrived at on a proper appreciation of the evidence should not
be interfered with merely because the appellate court was of an opinion that a
view different from the one taken by the trial court was possible. It has been
pointed out that the currency notes had not been touched by the appellant and
the defence version that they have been surreptitiously put on the table while
the appellant was otherwise engaged in some activity was a possibility on the
evidence and could not be ruled out.
Government Advocate has however supported the judgment of the High Court.
have heard the learned counsel for the parties. We find that the view taken by
the trial court was clearly possible on the evidence in the case. The Court had
observed that the plea of the defence at the very initial stage was that PW-6
had serious animosity towards the appellant and that the currency notes had
been put on the table by the former was a plausible explanation. It is in the
evidence that the currency notes had not been touched by the appellant or
recovered from his person. It is also the prosecution case that the relevant
documents had been handed over to Nagarja immediately after the money had been
put on the table. The argument therefore that there was no occasion to make a
demand for any bribe is also plausible. We are thus of the opinion that in an
appeal against acquittal where the High Court's interference is in a manner
circumscribed, there was no justification in upsetting the judgment of the
we allow the appeal, set aside the judgment of the High Court, and order the