M SUNDERAMOORTHY Vs. STATE OF TAMIL NADU
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: MADRAS)
STATE OF TAMIL NADU
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(1.)This appeal is directed 'against the judgment dated 27-10-1979 of the High Court of Madras confirming the conviction of the appellant under Section 161, I.P.C. and under Section 5(2) read with Section 5(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The appellant had been sentenced to undergo R.I. for 15 months under Section 5(2) read with Section 5(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act with no separate sentence under Section 161, I.P.C. The brief facts of the case are as under:-
The appellant, Sunderamoorthy was an Account-cum-Headclerk in the Tamil Nadu Forest Training School at Vaigai Dam. He took charge of the office on 6-10-1975 and had been residing in a house opposite the training school. PW-3, the Principal of the training school issued Ex.P-2 show cause notice to the PW-1, Venkataswamy, the canteen contractor, as to why his licence for running the canteen should not be cancelled. This was on the. basis of a complaint made by the appellant that the food served in the canteen was substandard. The appellant had taken food in the canteen for two days and being dissatisfied discontinued the practice before the notice was issued. The prosecution case is that the accused thereafter sent for 'PW-1, informed him that he would help him in restoring the. licence and demanded a bribe of Rs. 100 / -. On 21-10-1975, the appellant is stated to have pressed the demand to PW-1. The latter made a complaint to PW-6, who thereupon arranged a trap. As instructed, PW-1. was ready with ten rupee currency notes. PW-6 after drawing up a mahazar in the presence of PW-2, Jaganathan, Assistant of the Office of the , Special Tahsildar, Usilampatti directed PW-1. to give the notes to the appellant. PW-1. handed over the money to the appellant who received the same. When PW-1 emerged, PW-6 along with PW-2 confronted the appellant. The appellant produced the currency notes, PW-6 conducted the phenolphthalein test with reference to the fingers of the appellant. The test was positive, the currency notes were seized and the appellant arrested. PW-3, the Principal produced the concerned file relating to show cause notice, from the house of the appellant on the same day. Finally, the appellant was chargesheeted.
(2.)At the trial, the prosecution witnesses supported the case. PW- 1 affirmed the fact that the appellant made the demand and had also received the amount on 22-10-1975. The recovery of the currency notes from the appellant was not challenged. The plea of the appellant was that PW-1. had returned the amount due to him and there had been no demand for a bribe as there had been no occasion for doing so. The trial Court accepted the prosecution evidence, rejected the plea of the appellant and recorded the conviction. Before the High Court, the contentions of the appellant were that there was no independent evidence regarding the demand, the messenger who had contacted PW-1 at the behest of the appellant had not been examined, the solitary evidence of PW-1. is insufficient, the explanation offered by the appellant was probable and there is no conclusive evidence to hold that the appellant was guilty. It was also urged that the appellant being new in the office could exert little influence on the Principal and the whole story is, therefore, improbable. These contentions did not find favour with the High Court. It took the view that the evidence of PW-1. finds corroboration in the testimony of PWs-2 and 6 and the contemporary records. The recovery of the currency notes from the appellant proves the guilty conduct of the appellant in view of the presumption arising under Section 4(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act which has not been rebutted. The decisions of this Court (sic) in State of Rajasthan v. Mohamed Habeeb, 1974 Cri U 703 (Raj) C. 1. Emden v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1960 SC 548 and Lohana Kantilal v. State, AIR 1954 Sau 121 were referred to. The High Court thought that though, the conviction under Section 161, I.P.C. and Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act is to be maintained, no separate sentence need be awarded under Section 161, I.P.C.
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