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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Prevention of Corruption Act and sec. 161 of I.P.C - BRIBE of Rs.265/- trial court sentenced him for rigorous imprisonment for one year and 6 months and a fine of Rs.5000/- - High court dismissed the appeal - Apex court modified the order and imposed fine of Rs.50,000/- taking in to consideration of his age, aliments etc., and time consumed 30 long years =V. K. Verma … Appellant (s) Versus CBI … Respondent (s)= 2014 (Feb.Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41225

Prevention of Corruption Act and sec. 161 of I.P.C - BRIBE of Rs.265/- trial court sentenced him for rigorous imprisonment for one year and 6 months and a fine of Rs.5000/- - High court dismissed the appeal - Apex court modified the order and imposed fine of Rs.50,000/- taking in to consideration of his age, aliments etc., and time consumed 30 long years =
He was tried for offences under Section  161  of
      the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) (hereinafter referred to as  ‘IPC’)
      and Section 5(1)(d) read  with  Section  5(2)  of  the  Prevention  of
      Corruption Act, 1947. The charge was that the appellant  demanded  and
      accepted bribe of Rs.265/- from a contractor  by  name  Sanjeev  Kumar
      Sawhney on 21.12.1984. According to the appellant, the said contractor
      had an axe to grind since the appellant did not budge  to  his  demand
      for improper measurement of the work done by him and he  was  actually
      trapped at  his  instance.  FIR  was  registered  on  21.12.1984.  The
      sessions court convicted him of  the  charges  and  sentenced  him  to
      undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of one  and  a  half  years
      with a fine of Rs.5,000/- each under  the  charged  Sections,  as  per
      Judgment dated 10.04.2003.=

In Ajab and others v. State of Maharashtra[3] also, this Court had  an
      occasion to examine the similar situation. The offence  was  committed
      in 1972 and this Court delivered the Judgment in 1989. The  conviction
      was under Section 224 read with Section 395 of IPC. In that case  also
      “passage of time was reckoned as a factor for reducing the sentence to
      the period already undergone”. This Court in that case, while reducing
      the substantive sentence, increased the fine  holding  that  the  same
      would meet the ends of justice.

  15. The appellant is now aged 76. We are informed that he is otherwise not
      keeping in good health, having had also cardio vascular problems.  The
      offence is of the year 1984. It  is  almost  three  decades  now.  The
      accused has already undergone physical incarceration for three  months
      and mental incarceration for about thirty years. Whether at  this  age
      and stage, it would not be economically wasteful, and a  liability  to
      the State to keep the appellant in prison, is the question we have  to
      address. Having given thoughtful consideration to all the  aspects  of
      the matter, we are of the view that the facts  mentioned  above  would
      certainly be special reasons for reducing the substantive sentence but
      enhancing the fine, while maintaining the conviction.

  16. Accordingly, the appeal is partly allowed. The substantive sentence of
      imprisonment is reduced to the period already undergone.  However,  an
      amount of Rs.50,000/- is imposed as fine. The appellant shall  deposit
      the  fine  within  three  months  and,  if  not,  he   shall   undergo
      imprisonment for a period of six months. On payment of fine, his  bail
      bond will stand cancelled.
2014 (Feb.Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41225
SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, KURIAN JOSEPH

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                      CRIMINAL  APPELLATE  JURISDICTION


                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.  404  OF 2014
               [Arising out of S.L.P.(Criminal) No. 8628/2013]

V. K. Verma                                  … Appellant (s)

                                   Versus

CBI                                                … Respondent (s)


                               J U D G M E N T

KURIAN, J.:



      Leave granted.


   2. Appellant is the accused in C.C. No. 205 of 1994 on the  file  of  the
      Special Judge, Delhi. He was tried for offences under Section  161  of
      the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) (hereinafter referred to as  ‘IPC’)
      and Section 5(1)(d) read  with  Section  5(2)  of  the  Prevention  of
      Corruption Act, 1947. The charge was that the appellant  demanded  and
      accepted bribe of Rs.265/- from a contractor  by  name  Sanjeev  Kumar
      Sawhney on 21.12.1984. 
According to the appellant, the said contractor
      had an axe to grind since the appellant did not budge  to  his  demand
      for improper measurement of the work done by him and he  was  actually
      trapped at  his  instance.  
FIR  was  registered  on  21.12.1984.  The
      sessions court convicted him of  the  charges  and  sentenced  him  to
      undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of one  and  a  half  years
      with a fine of Rs.5,000/- each under  the  charged  Sections,  as  per
      Judgment dated 10.04.2003.

   3. The High Court declined to interfere with the conviction and  sentence
      and dismissed the appeal as per Judgment dated 22.07.2013 and,  hence,
      the appeal.

   4. One wonders as to  how  it  took  ten  years  for  the  matter  to  be
      registered as sessions case and stranger is it to see that  the  trial
      also took almost ten years and still stranger is that the matter  took
      ten years in the High Court.

   5. Pursuant to dismissal  of  the  appeal  before  the  High  Court,  the
      appellant surrendered before the Special Judge on  03.10.2003  and  he
      was sent to custody. On 28.10.2013, this Court issued  notice  limited
      to the quantum of sentence. Thereafter, by Order dated 16.12.2013, the
      appellant was enlarged on bail.

   6. Learned counsel for the appellant submits that the incident is of  the
      year 1984, the appellant is now aged 76 and he is sickly.  Heard  also
      the counsel for the CBI who has  strongly  opposed  even  any  lenient
      approach by this Court.

   7. Section 5 of  the  Prevention  of  Corruption  Act,  1947  deals  with
      criminal misconduct. Section 5(2) deals with punishment,  which  reads
      as under:

           “5. Criminal misconduct.

           (2)   Any public servant who commits criminal  misconduct  shall
           be punishable with imprisonment for a term which  shall  not  be
           less than one year but which may extend to seven years and shall
           also be liable to fine :

                 Provided that the  court  may,  for  any  special  reasons
           recorded in writing, impose a sentence of imprisonment  of  less
           than one year.”







   8. Section 161 of IPC was omitted by the introduction of  the  Prevention
      of Corruption Act,  1988.  The  pre-amended  proviso  dealt  with  the
      offence of  public  servant  taking  gratification  other  than  legal
      remuneration in respect of an official act. The punishment was:

           “… imprisonment of either  description  for  a  term  which  may
           extend to three years, or with fine or with both”




   9. Thus, as far as punishment  under  the  old  Section  161  of  IPC  is
      concerned, there is no mandatory minimum punishment. The  question  is
      whether the sentence could be reduced for any  special  reason.  Under
      the old Prevention of Corruption  Act,  1947,  there  is  a  mandatory
      minimum punishment of one year. It may extend to seven years. However,
      under the proviso, the  court  may,  for  special  reasons,  impose  a
      sentence of imprisonment of less than one year.

  10. In imposing a punishment, the concern of the court is with the  nature
      of the act viewed as a  crime  or  breach  of  the  law.  The  maximum
      sentence or fine provided in law is an indicator on the gravity of the
      act. Having regard to the nature and mode of commission of an  offence
      by a person and the mitigating factors, if any, the court has to  take
      a decision as to whether the charge established  falls  short  of  the
      maximum gravity indicated in the statute, and if so, to what extent.

  11. The long delay before the courts  in  taking  a  final  decision  with
      regard to the guilt  or  otherwise  of  the  accused  is  one  of  the
      mitigating factors for the superior courts to take into  consideration
      while taking a decision on the quantum of sentence. As we  have  noted
      above, the FIR was registered by the CBI  in  1984.  The  matter  came
      before the sessions court only in 1994. The sessions court took almost
      ten years to conclude the trial and pronounce the judgment. Before the
      High Court, it took another ten years. Thus, it  is  a  litigation  of
      almost three decades in a simple trap case and that  too  involving  a
      petty amount.

  12. In Ashok Kumar v. State (Delhi Administration)[1], the  commission  of
      offence of theft was in 1971  and  the  Judgment  of  this  Court  was
      delivered in 1980. The conviction was under Section 411 of  IPC.  This
      Court having regard  to  the  purpose  of  punishment  and  “the  long
      protracted litigation”, reduced the sentence  to  the  period  already
      undergone by the convict.
  13. In Sharvan Kumar v. State  of  Uttar  Pradesh[2],  the  commission  of
      offence was in 1968 and  the  judgment  was  delivered  in  1985.  The
      conviction was under Sections 467 and 471 of IPC. In that  case  also,
      the long delay in the litigation process was one of the factors  taken
      into consideration by this Court  in  reducing  the  sentence  to  the
      period already undergone.

  14. In Ajab and others v. State of Maharashtra[3] also, this Court had  an
      occasion to examine the similar situation. The offence  was  committed
      in 1972 and this Court delivered the Judgment in 1989. The  conviction
      was under Section 224 read with Section 395 of IPC. In that case  also
      “passage of time was reckoned as a factor for reducing the sentence to
      the period already undergone”. This Court in that case, while reducing
      the substantive sentence, increased the fine  holding  that  the  same
      would meet the ends of justice.

  15. The appellant is now aged 76. We are informed that he is otherwise not
      keeping in good health, having had also cardio vascular problems.  The
      offence is of the year 1984. It  is  almost  three  decades  now.  The
      accused has already undergone physical incarceration for three  months
      and mental incarceration for about thirty years. Whether at  this  age
      and stage, it would not be economically wasteful, and a  liability  to
      the State to keep the appellant in prison, is the question we have  to
      address. Having given thoughtful consideration to all the  aspects  of
      the matter, we are of the view that the facts  mentioned  above  would
      certainly be special reasons for reducing the substantive sentence but
      enhancing the fine, while maintaining the conviction.

  16. Accordingly, the appeal is partly allowed. The substantive sentence of
      imprisonment is reduced to the period already undergone.  However,  an
      amount of Rs.50,000/- is imposed as fine. The appellant shall  deposit
      the  fine  within  three  months  and,  if  not,  he   shall   undergo
      imprisonment for a period of six months. On payment of fine, his  bail
      bond will stand cancelled.




………..…………………….…..…………J.
                                    (SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA)



…………………..…………………………J.
                                               (KURIAN JOSEPH)
New Delhi;
February 14, 2014.
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[1]    (1980) 2 SCC 282
[2]    (1985) 3 SCC 658
[3]    1989 Supp (1) SCC 601

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                                                                  REPORTABLE


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