Perhaps in the near future accepting bribe may not be lead to the conviction of the accused, unless, it is proved in the court of law. According to the new judgement passed by the Apex court of India “A government official cannot be convicted under corruption charges merely on the basis of recovery of bribe money and it is essential to prove that he had demanded the money”. According to the news published in the national daily which has reported the following “A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices V Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy said the proof of demand is an “indispensable essentiality” for establishing an offence of bribe and acquitted an assistant director of technical education department of Andhra Pradesh despite allegedly being caught red-handed for taking Rs 500 bribe in 1996”.
Supreme Court in its recent judgement has ruled out that catching someone (government servant) red handed while accepting bribe or recovery of the money leads to the conviction stating that it is not sufficient to prove the guilt just on the basis of the catching someone red-handed and recovering money from him, one need to establish that the accused had demanded the money and accepted the bribe voluntarily. According to the verdict “The proof of demand of illegal gratification, thus, is the gravamen of the offence under Sections 7 and 13(1) (d)(i)&(ii) of the Act and in absence thereof, unmistakably the charge, therefore, would fail. Mere acceptance of any amount allegedly by way of illegal gratification or recovery thereof … would thus not be sufficient to bring home the charge under these two sections of the Act”.
The above judgement could be very beneficial to some of the high-profile cases rocking the state of Goa which includes the Louis Berger Bribery Case which involves the ex-cm of Goa Digamber Kamat and former PWD minister Churchill Alemao, second is the brother in law of existing chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar, who was caught red-handed by ACB while striking the deal for industrial plot and third the recent one is the case of the peon of transport director, who was also caught red-handed while accepting the bribe of rupees one lakh. Besides the above there may be numerous cases which are not high profile and which are pending for the judgement would get benefited with this new verdict.
Now the conviction any accused, involved into bribery case, will be a distant dream for the ACB and police who work hard to catch the culprits. The story will not end here, it will give more courage to the culprits to take the full advantage of the situation. The culprits will openly take the bribe now without the fear of getting caught since the verdict says “Mere possession and recovery of currency notes from an accused without proof of demand would not establish the offence. It has been propounded that 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 proved”.
If you look at the case in which the accused is acquitted by the court, you will understand how difficult it will be in future to punish the culprits involved into the bribery cases. This was the 19-year-old case in which ACB laid the trap and caught the accused practically red handed, the currency notes were coated phenolphthalein powder, “Though, a very spirited Endeavour has been made by state counsel to co-relate statement of witness to the attendant facts and circumstances including the recovery of this amount from the possession of the appellant by trap team, identification of currency notes used in the trap operation and also the chemical reaction of the sodium carbonate solution qua the appellant, we are left unpersuaded to return a finding that the prosecution in the instant case has been able to prove the factum of demand beyond reasonable doubt and as a result, failure of the prosecution to prove the demand for illegal gratification would be fatal and mere recovery of the amount from the person accused of the offence under Sections 7 or 13 of the Act would not entail his conviction thereunder”. The verdict said.
Prima facie it may look like the verdict is erroneous but if you look at it from the broader perspectives you will understand that this judgement is very much justified. Take a Look at this case from the point of view of innocent person, who being roped into the case of bribery by the real culprits, that is quite possible and in the event of such circumstances this judgement will come to the rescue of all those innocent people. It is true that 1000 culprits will go scot free, but our Indian law wants to make sure that one innocent should not get punished at the end.
Indian judiciary system is one of the best systems in the world, but it is the culprits who take advantage of these loopholes and maligned the image of it. Any story has two sides just like a coin and the judgement is always based on the substantiation of both the sides and it is always delivered keeping in mind much broader perspectives, think over this and then write your point of view about this article. We are looking forward to having your valuable comments and suggestions on this.
Source: Various Sources
Edited by Goa Prism News Desk