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Mere recovery of money cannot prove the charge of the prosecution against the accused under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988: Chhattisgarh High Court

Recovery by itself is insufficient to establish the prosecution’s case against the defendant. It is emphasised that in order to establish the accusation, it must be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knowingly took money knowing it was a bribe. The mere possession or recovery of money notes is insufficient to create such an offence in the absence of proof of demand for illicit satisfaction. The judgment was passed by The High Court of Chhattisgarh in the case of Pramod Kumar & Ors. V. State of Chhattisgarh [Criminal Appeal No.829 of 2003] by a Single Bench consisting of Hon’ble Shri Arvind Singh Chandel.

The facts of the case are that a resident of the said village had demolished the appellant’s old house and raised a new construction there. For raising the new construction, he had purchased some wood from a government depot and some wood was used by him available from his old demolished house.

The Appellant told Complainant that the wood used by him for raising the new construction of his house was stolen by him from the forest. Allegedly, the Appellant demanded a bribe of Rs.5,000 for not making a forest case against the Complainant. Ultimately, the Appellant consented to accept a bribe of Rs.1,000. Since the Complainant did not want to give a bribe to the Appellant, Hence, he submitted a written complaint.

Learned Counsel for the Appellant submitted that the Trial Court has convicted the Appellant without there being sufficient and clinching evidence against him on record. It was argued that in the transcription, there is nothing to show that there was any demand by the Appellant for a bribe. Regarding the written complaint made by the Complainant, it was argued that does not bear the signature of the Complainant and he admitted the fact that the complaint was not written by him.

Therefore, examination of the author of the complaint is necessary. Further, the counsel argued that mere recovery of the tainted money does not constitute an offence against the Appellant.

Learned Counsel for the Respondent supported the impugned judgment.

While relying on Suraj Mal v. State (Delhi Admn.) the learned court allowed the appeal and held that “mere recovery of tainted money divorced from the circumstances under which it is paid is not sufficient to convict the accused when the substantive evidence in the case is not reliable. The mere recovery by itself cannot prove the charge of the prosecution against the accused, in the absence of any evidence to prove payment of bribe or to show that the accused voluntarily accepted the money knowing it to be a bribe.”

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