State of A.P. Vs. P.
Satyanarayana Murthy  INSC 1701 (3 October 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 580 OF 2001 State
of A.P. ...Appellant Versus P. Satyanarayana Murthy ...Respondent
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in this appeal is to the judgment of a learned Single Judge of the Andhra
Pradesh High Court directing acquittal of the respondent who faced trial for
alleged commission of offence punishable under Section 13(2) read with Section
13(1)(d)(i) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (in short the `Act'). The
trial Court i.e. the Court of Principal Special Judge for SPE & ACB Cases,
Hyderabad, found the accused guilty. He was convicted and sentenced to two
years rigorous imprisonment under each count. Both the sentences were directed
to run concurrently. He was also fined with Rs.1000/- under each count with
facts in a nutshell are as follows:
One Gande Vaikuntam
(PW-1) was sanctioned a loan of Rs.15,000/- in the year 1986 by the A.P. Khadi
& Village Industries Board, Sangareddy. But due to some unavoidable
circumstances he could not avail the facility. After about three years between
April and May 1989 he approached the respondent-accused officer who was the
Development Officer of A.P. Khadi & Village Industries Board and requested
him for revival of the lapsed loan. According to the defacto complainant,
respondent dodged him on 25th May, 1989 when he went to his office at
Sangareddy and asked him to see him in the Head Office of A.P. Khadi &
Village Industries Board at Hyderabad on 27th May, 1989. Accordingly, the
complainant and one Balreddy (PW-2) met the respondent at the Head Office in
Hyderabad on 27.5.1989. The respondent demanded bribe of Rs.500/- from him so
that his loan case could be revived. He also told PW-1 to meet him on 31st May,
1989 at 8.00 a.m. at his residence. PW-1 approached the Dy. Superintendent of
Police, A.C.B. Nizamabad and gave a report. On 31.5.1989 at about 7.25 a.m.
PW-1 met the respondent who demanded and accepted the sum of Rs.500/- from him
in presence of D. Sridhar Reddy and Ch. Narsimha Reddi. The respondent was
caught red handed and bribe money was recovered in presence of mediators from
the respondent. To prove the accusations the prosecution examined eight
witnesses and 31 exhibits were exhibited. Accused examined one witness and
exhibited 2 exhibits.
The trial Court found
the evidence of PWs 1 and 2 to be clear and cogent and accordingly recorded the
conviction and sentence as afore- stated. In appeal before the High Court it
was submitted that the accusations have not been established so far as the
respondent is concerned. The High Court held that according to the evidence of
prosecution the application given by PW-1 was found in the brief case of the
accused person. But the High court observed that normally one would expect that
if the accused officer kept the application in the brief case he would also
keep the money in the brief case and it is not expected that he would keep the
money on a tea-pot and the application in the brief case. This according to the
High Court created doubt whether any money was demanded and received by the
accused person. It was further observed that the evidence of PW-1 was not corroborated.
Although there was an independent witness available, he was not examined. The
High Court also observed that non examination of one Narsimha Reddi rendered
the prosecution version fragile.
conviction was set aside and acquittal was directed.
acquittal, the State of Andhra Pradesh has filed this appeal.
counsel for the appellant-State submitted that the High Court by a cryptic
order has set aside the well reasoned judgment of the trial Court. Merely because
some persons were not examined, same cannot be a ground to discard the evidence
of a reliable witness. It is pointed out that the bribe money purported to have
been given by Narsimha Reddi was also seized. The Investigating Officer had
clearly stated the reasons for the non examination of Narsimha Reddi. It was
stated that he had joined naxalites. The presumption available under Section 20
of the Act was not kept in view by the High Court. It is submitted that the
High Court's conclusions are based on surmises and, therefore, the judgment of
acquittal cannot be maintained.
counsel for the respondent on the other hand submitted that the High Court has
analysed the evidence in great detail to find that the prosecution version is
not believable. That being so, there was no scope for any interference in this
is to be noted that the evidence of PW-1 has not been discarded by the High
Court. But it is observed by the High Court that there was no corroboration to
the evidence of PW-1 and therefore it recorded the order of acquittal. The
evidence of PW-1 does not suffer from any infirmity. Mere non- examination of
any other person would not render his evidence suspect. The IO has
categorically stated that Narsimha Reddi was not available to be examined as a
witness. Further, there was no suggestion given by the accused that money was
forced on his hands and thereafter he put it on the table. No such suggestion
was given and for the first time during examination under Section 313 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short the `Code') such a stand was taken.
The High Court has also not considered the effect of the presumption flowing
from Section 20 of the Act. It is not understood as to the basis on which the
High Court found that accused would not put the application form and the money
in different places.
The conclusion has no
basis. The accused did not dispute that the application form (Ext.P5) was found
in a brief case. In fact the bribed money from Narsimha Reddi was also seized.
It has been clearly indicated by the witness that the money given by PW-1 and
money given to Narsimha Reddi were kept side by side and were not mixed up. In
the present case, the trial Court had elaborately dealt with the evidence to
record conviction. The High court has not indicated any reason as to how the
conclusions of the trial Court are wrong. In any event, the High Court by a
cryptic conclusion held that the evidence led was not sufficient. As noted
above, reasons for Narsimha Reddi's non examination has been disclosed by the
being the position, the judgment of the High Court is clearly unsustainable and
set aside. Considering the background facts, one year custodial sentence with
fine of Rs.1,000/- as was imposed by the trial Court are imposed. The
respondent shall surrender to custody forthwith to serve the remainder of
appeal is allowed to the aforesaid extent.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)
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