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Mere recovery of tainted money without any proof of demand not sufficient to constitute the offence punishable U/S. 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act: Jharkhand High Court

Illegal gratification is a sine qua non to constitute the said offence and mere recovery of currency notes cannot constitute the offence under Section 8 unless it is proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused voluntarily accepted the money knowing it to be a bribe. The judgement was passed by the High Court of Jharkhand in the case of Suraj Singh vs The State of Jharkhand [Cr. Appeal (SJ) No. 663 of 2020] by Single Bench consisting of Hon’ble Justice Anil Kumar Choudhary.

The appeal followed by the judgment of the learned session court where under, the learned court has held the appellant guilty for the offence punishable under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The appellant has been sentenced to undergo Rigorous Imprisonment for three years and nine months and to pay a fine for the offence punishable under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and in default of payment of fine to undergo Simple Imprisonment for one year.

The learned counsel for the appellant-convict submitted that the learned court below failed to appreciate the fact that there is absolutely no evidence in the record regarding the handing over of the alleged general currency notes to the appellant-accused as a bribe. He further submitted that to bring home the charge for the offence punishable under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In support of his contention, he relied upon the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Priyanka Kumari versus the State of Jharkhand wherein in “the facts of those cases where the offence involved were under section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and where there was no evidence regarding demand of bribe by the appellants of those appeals, this Court set aside the conviction of the appellants and acquitted them by giving them the benefit of doubt relying upon the aforesaid settled principle of law.”

The learned counsel for the respondent on the other hand defended the impugned judgment of conviction and order of sentence and submitted that as the witness have categorically stated about the facts of the case and his testimony which is corroborated by the testimony of the other prosecution witnesses; are sufficient enough to establish the charge for the offence punishable under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The court while allowing the petition held that “the demand for the bribe money by the accused person is also a sine qua non to convict the accused of the offence punishable under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption, 1988 as well and mere recovery of tainted money by itself without any proof of demand is insufficient to establish the charge for the offence punishable under section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.”

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