The minimum sentence applicable for an offence punishable under section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act is one year: Jharkhand High Court

It was a settled principle of law that the minimum sentence under Sections 7 and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was enhanced by Act 1 of 2014 with effect from 16-1- 2014, would was not applicable to the case in which the incident in question relates to. The Hon’ble High Court of Jharkhand before The Hon’ble Mr. Justice Anil Kumar Choudhary held such opinion regarding the case of Kedar Paswan Vs. The Union of India through the CBI/SPE/Ranchi [Cr. Appeal (SJ) No. 457 of 2019]. 

The facts of the case were associated with an appeal filed against the judgment dated 22.02.2019, wherein the learned Special Judge passed a sentence of conviction. The counsel representing the appellant-convict stated that the appellant does not want to contest the said appeal on merit and confined his arguments only to a sentence imposed by the trial court upon the appellant-convict in the impugned judgment and order of sentence. The learned Court convicted the appellant of offences under Section 13 (2) r/w 13 (1) (d) Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, Section 120B  read with 420, 407, 467, 468, and 471 IPC and Section 13(2) read with 13(1) (d) P.C. Act. It was reported that in the office of the Engineer-in-chief, RCD, Government of Bihar, Patna, the appellant was functioning as the Director. Supply of bitumen in bulk was proposed to the RCD but the appellant dissented to the same and accepted the illegal gratification from the transporter co-convict, D.N. Singh.

After going through each and every exhibit, submission and witness it was found that he was instrumental in placing the order for supply but there was neither any capacity for storage of the aforesaid bulk bitumen nor the allotted fund was sufficient. Even then, the said supply order was issued by the appellant-convict in favour of the co-convict transporter and based on those circumstances and the evidence in the record the learned court below held him guilty for the said offences and convicted and sentenced him, as stated earlier. 

Considering all the statements and submissions, The Hon’ble Court held that “as the appellant-convict has already undergone custody for more than two years and six months, this Court does not want to interfere with the sentence so far as offence punishable under Section 120B  read with 420, 407, 467, 468, and 471 IPC and Section 13(2) read with 13(1) (d) P.C. Act is concerned. In case, the appellant-convict deposits the fine amount of Rs. 15,000/-, he shall be released from the custody forthwith unless his detention is required in any other case. This appeal is disposed of with modification in sentence only and in view of the disposal of this appeal, the interlocutory application, if any, also stands disposed of.”

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Judgment reviewed by Bipasha Kundu

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