Demand, acceptance of bribe key to prove offence under anti-graft law: SC

(IANS): The Supreme Court on Monday said the proof of demand of bribe and its acceptance by a public servant is important to establish offence under the provisions of the anti-corruption law.

A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka said: “We have given careful consideration to the submissions. We have perused the depositions of the prosecution witnesses. The offence under Section 7 of the PC (Prevention of Corruption) Act relating to public servants taking bribe requires a demand of illegal gratification and the acceptance thereof. The proof of demand of bribe by a public servant and its acceptance by him is sine quo non for establishing the offence under Section 7 of the PC Act.”

The top court’s stand came as it set aside a Telangana High Court judgment, which upheld the conviction of a woman commercial tax officer at Secunderabad, for the alleged offences under Section 7 of the Act. The woman officer moved the top court challenging the high court verdict.

The top court said: “This is a case where the demand of illegal gratification by the appellant was not proved by the prosecution. Thus, the demand which is sine quo non for establishing the offence under Section 7 was not established.”

The prosecution said the appellant was working as a commercial tax officer at Secunderabad and the complainant was then working as a supervisor of a co-operative society.

The high court upheld her conviction for taking a bribe of Rs 2,000 from a supervisor of Farmers’ Service Co-operative Society for issuing a final assessment order.

It was alleged that she was offered Rs 2,000 in her office, and instead of taking the amount directly, she took out a diary from her table drawer and asked the complainant to keep the money there. The Anti-Corruption Bureau arrested her after recovering wads of currency notes, which tallied with the numbers recorded in pre-trap proceedings.

The bench noted the complainant, in his examination-in-chief about the demand made by the officer, improved from time to time, and the evidence is not at all reliable, therefore the demand made by her has not been conclusively proved.

It also observed that another witness, who was working as assistant to the officer, was also not reliable, as the woman officer served him a memo for being careless in performing duties.

Allowing the appeal filed by the officer, the bench said: “The conviction of the appellant for the offences punishable under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the PC Act is set aside and the appellant is acquitted of the charges framed against her.”

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