N. Ramakrishnaiah (D)
Tr. LRS Vs. State of A.P  INSC 1767 (17 October 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. OF 2008 Arising
out of SLP (Crl) No. 5476 of 2006 N. Ramakrishnaiah (dead) thr. Lrs.
....Appellants versus State of A.P. ....
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT, J
in this appeal is to the judgment of a learned Single Judge of the Andhra
Pradesh High Court dealing with Criminal Appeal preferred by appellant No.1-N.
Ramakrishnaiah who died during the pedency of the appeal and his legal heirs
were brought on record as appellants in this appeal.
factual matrix leading to the conviction of the accused N. Ramakrishnaiah was
The accused joined
government service as a Supervisor on 02.11.1955 in the Andhra Pradesh
Panchayat Raj Department. He was promoted as a Deputy Executive Engineer on
02.01.1967 and further promoted as an Executive Engineer on 01.03.1979. He
continued to work as an Executive Engineer, Kamareddy of Karimnagar District
till he was kept under suspension on 26.05.1986. On reliable information that
he had acquired assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, a case
was registered on 12.05.1986 and the investigation was taken up. During the
course of investigation, search was conducted. The documents found during the
search disclosed acquisition of number of assets by the accused in his name and
in the name of his dependents. During the check period i.e. from 2.11.1955 to
13.5.1986, he acquired assets worth Rs.14,71,578. His income from all known
sources was Rs.8,23,634/- and the expenditure during the check period was
Rs.7,88,574/-. After deducting the expenditure from the income, he would have
saved Rs.35,040/-. But he had acquired the assets worth Rs.17,71,578/-. After
deducting the likely saving of Rs.35,040/-, the disproportionate assets in
possession of accused from his known sources of income was worked out at
Rs.14,36,538/- and he could not give satisfactory account for acquisition of
those assets. He was, therefore, liable for punishment under Section 5 (1)(e)
read with Section 5 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (hereinafter
referred to as the "Old Act").
The following was the
charge framed against the accused:
"That you being
a public servant employed as Supervisor on 02.11.1955 subsequently promoted as
Dy. Executive Engineer on 02.01.1967 and Executive Engineer on 01.03.1979 in
the Panchayat Raj Department of Government of Andhra Pradesh, during the period
between 02.11.1955 and 13.05.1986 acquired assets, which were disproportionate
to your known sources of income and on or about the 13th day of May, 1986 you
had been in possession of pecuniary resources or property in your name and in
the names of your wife and children to the extent of Rs.14,36,538.00 which were
disproportionate to your known sources of income and for which you could not
satisfactorily account and you thereby committed an offence under section 13
(1) (e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 .(Sec. 5(1) (e) of the Old
Act) punishable under Section 13(2) of the said Act (Sec. 5(2) of the Old Act)
and within my cognizance."
3 He denied the
above charge and claimed for trial. The prosecution in order to prove the guilt
of the accused examined P.Ws. 1 to 52, and marked Exs. P.1 to P.195. No oral
evidence was adduced on defence side. But, Ex.D-1 relating to the agricultural
income for some period was marked.
The learned Special
Judge after considering the oral and documentary evidence, found the accused
guilty for the offence punishable under Section 5(1(e) read with Section 5(2)
of the Act, convicted and sentenced him to undergo simple imprisonment for one
year and to pay a fine of Rs.20,000/- in default to suffer simple imprisonment
for three months. The learned Special Judge also directed that Item Nos.1 to 4
of assets to be sold in public auction and the sale proceeds was directed to be
confiscated to the State. Being aggrieved by the judgment of the trial Court
accused preferred the appeal in the High Court, which was dismissed.
is to be noted that in the appeal before the High Court, the dispute was
restricted to only Item No.26 of the assets (movables) and agricultural income.
It was stated that the former was over estimated and deserved to be scaled down
and there was underestimation of the latter and the same was to be increased.
The High Court with reference to the evidence and materials on record did not
find any substance in the plea and upheld the conclusions.
stand was re-iterated by the learned counsel for the appellants.
the other hand, learned counsel for the State supported the judgments of the
trial Court and the High Court.
of the items as far as income is concerned was interests on deposits. The High
Court noted that the same related to interest accrued on deposits. Since total
income and expenditure formed the basis of computation, the accrued income has
been duly taken note of. The accrual of interest was on the deposits made, in a
sense that it is not an investment.
That was accrued
income. If it is excluded, the income earned would be reduced to that extent.
Thus, it would not be a factor in favour of the accused.
is the position in respect of deposits in Pratibha Finance Corporation and
Sapthagin Finance Corporation.
far as movables covered by item No.26 are concerned, the trial Court and the
High Court relied upon the evidence of PW 36 and PW 52 and Ext P-112 (list of
movables covered are those which were listed in the inventory made at the time
of search room wise. The details contained are the year of acquisition, the
value of each article and other particulars given by the accused himself. The
details were recorded by PW-36. Further, PW-52 also corroborated the evidence by
deposing to similar effect. Though suggestion was made that the accused did not
give the detail to PW-36, significantly PW-52 was not cross-examined in this
regard. High Court noticed that it was not specified by the accused as to in
respect of which particular item there was over valuation. Significantly,
signature of the accused is there in the inventory. The conclusions of the High
Court to reject contentions of the accused do not suffer from any infirmity to
far as the agricultural income is concerned, prosecution relied upon the
evidence of Mandal Revenue Officer (PW-23). He furnished details relating to
yield, cultivation, inspection remarks in respect of the agricultural
properties for Faslis 1378 to 1395. The details are Ext. P91 andP92. Another
witness was PW-24 who gave Ext P94 statement giving details of land in Agadala
Lanka Village. He also gave details for Faslis 1379 to 1394. Similarly, PW-25
gave details by Ext.P95 for Faslis 1376 to 1390 in respect of Pydichinthalapadu
Village. As per Ext.P96 details were given from 1968 to 1985 relating to market
rate of Paddy at Eluru. Other witnesses examined to prove the agricultural
income aspect were PWs 40, 41, 27. An agriculturist PW-39 was examined to show
the yield. His lands were adjacent to that of the accused.
is interesting to note that accused placed reliance on Ext.D1 purporting to
show yields in certain Faslis. It was recovered from the house of the accused.
But interestingly no material was adduced to show who was the author of the
document and as to on what basis the entries were made.
There was not even a
signature of the person who had prepared it. The High Court did not attach any
importance to it.
notice that the figure indicated in Ext.D1 is Rs.1,34,160/- for the period from
1961 to 1976. The trial Court has in fact gone to the extent of adopting the
figures of these 15 years for the next 10 years. The entries in Exts. P92 to 95
have not been established to be erroneous and therefore the trial Court and the
High Court have rightly refused to accept accused's stand of under-estimation.
13 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (in short the `Act') deals with
various situations when a public servant can be said to have committed criminal
misconduct. Clause (e) of Sub-section (1) of the section is applicable when the
public servant or any person on his behalf, is in possession or has, at any
time during the period of his office, been in possession for which the public
servant cannot satisfactorily account of pecuniary resources or property
disproportionate to his known source of income. Clause (e) of Sub-section (1),
of Section 5 of the Old Act was in similar lines. But there have been drastic
amendments. Under the new clause, the earlier concept of "known sources of
income" has undergone a radical change. As per the explanation appended,
the prosecution is relieved of the burden of investigating into "source of
income" of an accused to a large extent, as it is stated in the
explanation that "known sources of income" mean income received from
any lawful sources, the receipt of which has been intimated in accordance with
the provisions of any law, rules or orders for the time being applicable to a
public servant. The expression "known source of income" has reference
to sources known to the prosecution after thorough investigation of the case.
It is not, and cannot be contended that "known sources of income"
means sources known to the accused. The prosecution cannot, in the very nature
of things be expected to know the affairs of an accused person. Those will be
matters "specially within the knowledge" of the accused, within the
meaning of Section 106, of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (in short, the
emphasis of the phrase "known sources of income" in Section 13 (1)
(e) (old Section 5(1) (e)) is clearly on the word "income." It would
be primary to observe that qua the public servant, the income would be what is
attached to his office or post, commonly known as remuneration or salary.
"income" by itself, is classic and has a wide connotation.
Whatever comes in or
is received is income. But, however, wide the import and connotation of the
term "income", it is incapable of being understood as meaning receipt
having no nexus to one's labour, or expertise, or property, or investment, and
being further a source which may or may not yield a regular revenue. These
essential characteristics are vital in understanding the term
"Income". Therefore, it can be said that, though "income"
in receipt in the hand of its recipient, every receipt would not partake into
the character of income. For the public servant, whatever return he gets of his
service, will be the primary item of his income. Other income which can
conceivably be income qua the public servant will be in the regular receipt
from (a) his property, or (b) his investment. A receipt from windfall, or gains
of graft, crime or immoral secretions by persons prima facie would not be
receipt for the "known sources of income" of a public servant.
legislature has advisedly used the expression "satisfactorily
account." The emphasis must be on the word "satisfactorily" and
the legislature has, thus, deliberately cast a burden on the accused not only
to offer a plausible explanation as to how he came by his large wealth, but
also to satisfy the Court that his explanation was worthy of acceptance.
analysis made by the trial Court and the High Court and evidence on record
leave no manner of doubt that the conviction as recorded does not suffer from
any infirmity. We find no infirmity with the order of the High Court. The
appeal is dismissed.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)
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