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The State of Gujarat Vs. Navinbhai Chandrakant Joshi and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (17 Jul 2018)

When findings recorded by Trial Court is based upon appreciation of evidence, High Court should not reverse Trial Court’s judgment



Present appeals arise out of the judgment passed by the High Court by which the High Court reversed the verdict of conviction passed by the trial Court and thereby acquitting the Respondents under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. High Court held that, there was no recovery from Accused No. 1-J.D. Patel and the demand and acceptance by the Accused persons has not been proved by the prosecution and acquitted the Accused.

It is well-settled that to establish the offence under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Act, particularly those relating to the trap cases, the prosecution has to establish the existence of demand as well as acceptance by the public servant. The High Court was not right in brushing aside the evidence of PW-1 who has clearly stated that. Accused No. 1-J.D. Patel demanded bribe of Rs. 1,000 and the same was settled for Rs. 500 for expediting the matter for conversion of the plot for non-agricultural purpose. Recovery of the tainted currency notes from Accused No. 2-Navinbhai and the presence of anthracene powder in the right hand of Accused No. 1-J.D. Patel and the pocket of the shirt of Accused No. 2-Navinbhai clearly show that, they acted in tandem in the demand and acceptance of the bribe amount. When the demand and acceptance of illegal gratification has been proved by the evidence of PWs 1 and 3, the High Court was not right in holding that, the demand and acceptance was not proved. The findings of the trial Court did not suffer from any infirmity and the High Court was not justified in setting aside the conviction of the Accused.

So far as the presumption raised under Section 20 of the Act for the offence under Section 7 of the Act is concerned, it is settled law that the presumption raised under Section 20 of the Act is a rebuttable presumption, and that the burden placed on the Appellant for rebutting the presumption is one of preponderance of probabilities. Since it is established that the Accused was possessing the bribe money, it was for them to explain that how the bribe money has been received by them and if he fails to offer any satisfactory explanation, it will be presumed that he has accepted the bribe.

In the case in hand, the Accused have not offered any explanation to rebut the presumption under Section 20 of the Act. On the other hand, from the evidence of PW-1 that Accused No. 1 demanded the bribe appears to be natural. When the findings recorded by the Trial Court is based upon appreciation of evidence, the High Court was not right in reversing the judgment of the trial Court.

Regarding the sentence of imprisonment for conviction under Section 13(1)(d) of the Act, the trial Court imposed sentence of imprisonment of two years upon each of the Accused. The occurrence was of the year 1991 that is about 27 years ago. In view of the passage of time, the sentence of imprisonment of two years is reduced to the statutory minimum imprisonment of one year. The impugned judgment of the High Court is set aside and appeals are allowed affirming the conviction of the Accused Nos. 1 and 2 under Section 7 and Section 13(1)(d) of the Act.


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