Mere possession or recovery of currency notes not sufficient to constitute offence under PC Act: SC

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New Delhi, Feb 3 (PTI) Mere possession or recovery of currency notes is not sufficient to constitute an offence under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act and to prove the charge of the prosecution against the accused, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday.

The apex court said that to prove the charge against an accused, it has to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that accused voluntarily accepted money knowing it to be a bribe.

'It is equally well settled that mere recovery by itself cannot prove the charge of the prosecution against the accused...under Sections 7, 13(1)(d)(i) and (ii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 it is reiterated that to prove the charge, it has to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that accused voluntarily accepted money knowing it to be bribe,' said a three-judge bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and M R Shah.

The apex court said that absence of proof of demand for illegal gratification and mere possession or recovery of currency notes is not sufficient to constitute such an offence.

The judgement came on an appeal filed by N Vijayakumar, who was a sanitary inspector of Madurai Municipal Corporation, against order of Madras High Court convicting him in a corruption case. The trial court had acquitted him initially in the case against which the state went in appeal before the high court.

The top court held that in view of the contradictions in the depositions of key witnesses examined on behalf of the prosecution, the demand for and acceptance of bribe amount and cell phone by the appellant, is not proved beyond reasonable doubt. 'Having regard to such evidence on record the acquittal recorded by the trial court is a “possible view” as such the judgment of the High Court is fit to be set aside. Before recording conviction under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, courts have to take utmost care in scanning the evidence. 'Once a conviction is recorded under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, it casts a social stigma on the person in the society apart from serious consequences on the service rendered...,' the bench said. PTI PKS RKS RKS