Proof of Acceptance of illegal gratification can follow only if there is proof of demand: Chhattisgarh High Court

The demand of illegal gratification is the gravamen and sine qua non to constitute the offence under Section 7 of PC Act, 1988.  Not only  this the section cannot be invoked even if currency notes were recovered as mere recovery of currency notes cannot constitute the offence under Section 7 unless it is proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused voluntarily accepted the money knowing it to be a bribe. In context of the case no.726 of 2016 Dawatram@ Dilip Kumar Bhardwaj vs. State of Chhattisgarh. The judgement was passed by Hon’ble Shri Justice Arvind Singh Chandel.

The facts of the case are as follows Appellant was posted as a Food Inspector at Block Bodla, District Kabirdham. Complainant Ashok Nirmalkar (PW2) was authorised for transporting food grains from Food and Civil Supplies Department, Kawardha by the authorised and registered transporter Rakesh Tamboli. It is alleged that e-panchnama was prepared by the Appellant to verify the transportation of food grains by the transporter along with bill. According to the further case of prosecution, bill of Rs.3,40,000 for the month of March, 2013 for transportation of food grains was not received by the transporter. Allegedly, the Appellant who was Food Inspector at Block Bodla demanded Rs.5,000 from the Complainant as illegal gratification in lieu of preparing e-panchnama. Since the Complainant did not want to give bribe, he made a written complaint (Ex.P2) before the Superintendent of Police, Anti Corruption Bureau, Raipur on 11.4.2013. For verification of the complaint, the Complainant was given a digital voice recorder and a panchnama thereof (Ex.P4) was prepared. On 16.4.2013, the Complainant informed Inspector/Investigating Officer S.K. Sen (PW12) that the Appellant had demanded bribe on 12.4.2013 and he had recorded the conversation took place in this regard.  A trap party was constituted and Dehati Nalishi (Ex.P3) was recorded after hearing the conversation recorded in the digital voice recorder. For giving bribe, the Complainant had brought and produced 14 currency notes in the denomination of Rs.500 each, total amounting to Rs.7,000. Their numbers were noted and they were smeared with phenolphthalein powder. The Complainant and the panch witnesses were described about the trap proceedings .  On being asked about the bribe money, the Appellant admitted taking the bribe money and keeping the same in the pocket of his shirt. The bribe money was recovered from the pocket of his shirt. Numbers of the recovered currency notes were compared with the numbers already noted. The numbers matched. The recovered currency notes, the shirt of the Appellant, the fingers of the Appellant as also the fingers of the Complainant were dipped into different solutions of sodium carbonate on which their colour turned into pink

 To bring home the offence, the prosecution examined as many as 12 witnesses. Statement of the Appellant was also recorded under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in which he denied the guilt, pleaded innocence and false implication. It was the defence of the Appellant that name of the Appellant is Dilip Kumar Bhardwaj. He was never known by names Dawatram or Daulatram. His office was not situated in Kawardha, but in the office of SDM at Bodla, which is 22 Kms. away from Kawardha. . Learned Counsel appearing for the Appellant submitted that the Trial Court has wrongly convicted the Appellant without there being sufficient and clinching evidence against him on record. It was argued that both the demand and the acceptance of bribe money by the Appellant are not proved in this case.  In the present case, the complainant did not support the prosecution case insofar as demand by the accused is concerned. The prosecution has not examined any other witness, present at the time when the money was allegedly handed over to the accused by the complainant, to prove that the same was pursuant to any demand made by the accused. In fact such possession is admitted by the accused himself. Mere possession and recovery of the currency notes from the accused without proof of demand will not bring home the offence under Section 7.  The above also will be conclusive insofar as the offence under Sections 13(1)(d)(i) and (ii) is concerned as in the absence of any proof of demand for illegal gratification, the use of corrupt or illegal means or abuse of position as a public servant to obtain any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage cannot be held to be established.

The judgement passed by Hon’ble High Court of Chhattisgarh states “As regards the sanction for prosecution also, from perusal of the record of the Trial Court, it appears that though the sanction has been obtained from the Law and Legislative Department, which is available on record, the sanction was not exhibited by the prosecution before the Trial Court nor was any concerned witness examined before the Court. The Appellant was ever known by names Dawatram or Daulatram is in dispute and office of the Appellant was situated in Bodla but why and how he made demand in Kawardha has been duly considered by the sanctioning authority or not at the time of granting the sanction, no witness has been examined by the prosecution in this regard before the Trial Court. This deprived the Appellant of the opportunity to examine the said concerned witness on the above point, which has resulted into prejudice to the Appellant and thereby a failure of justice has occurred in this case. From the aforesaid discussion, I find that the conviction of the Appellant is not sustainable in the result, the appeal is allowed. The conviction and sentence imposed upon the Appellant are set aside and he is acquitted of all the charges framed against him.”


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