CUTTACK:The Orissa HC has ruled that mere acceptance of any amount by way of illegal gratification or its recovery is outside the scope of the proof of demand and is not sufficient to bring home the charge under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The single-judge bench of Justice S K Sahoo said, “The proof of demand of illegal gratification is the essence of accusation of the offences under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and in the absence thereof, the charge would fail.” The complainant cannot be placed on any better footing than that of an accomplice and corroboration in material particulars connecting the accused with the crime has to be insisted upon, Justice Sahoo ruled.
The ruling by the vacation bench came on Thursday while allowing the criminal appeal of Sanatan Dash, who was convicted for taking a bribe of Rs 500 and sentenced to two years of rigorous im- prisonment by the special judge vigilance in Bhubaneswar nearly 18 years ago.
“The prosecution evidence with regard to the de- mand and acceptance of a bribe amount of Rs 500 by the appellant from the complainant for passing his house rent bill appears to be shaky in nature. When there is absence of sufficient, cogent and reliable evidence on record to establish the guilt of the appellant beyond all reasonable doubt and the impugned judgment suffers from perversity, the same cannot be sustained in the eye of law and accordingly, I am constrained to give benefit of doubt to the appellant,” Justice Sahoo said in his 37-page judgment.
The impugned judgment and order of conviction of the appellant and the sentence passed on December 3, 2003 are hereby set aside and the appellant is acquitted of all the charges, Justice Sahoo’s order read.Internet Explorer Channel Network