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Friday, September 25, 2015

Sections 7 and 13 of the P.C.whether having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, any case is made out by the appellant to call for any interference in the quantum of punishment awarded to him by the two courts below and if so, to what extent. = Taking into consideration the totality of the facts and circumstances of the case, such as firstly, the incident is of 1995; secondly, this litigation is pending for the last 20 years; thirdly, the appellant is now quite old and suffering with ailments; fourthly, he has already lost his job, we consider it just and proper, in peculiar facts of this case, to reduce the punishment awarded to the appellant from two years to that of one year. Since at the relevant time when the offence was committed by the appellant, the minimum punishment prescribed in Sections 7 and 13 was six months and one year respectively, which may extend to five years and seven years respectively hence this Court can reduce the punishment of 2 years awarded to the appellant to one year notwithstanding the amendment made in Sections 7 and 13 by Act No. 1 of 2014 (w.e.f.16.01.2014) which, in our view, will not apply to the case of the appellant in the light of Article 20 of the Constitution of India.

                                                              Non-Reportable
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 1230 OF 2015
                (Arising out of S.L.P.(Crl.)No.5747 of 2015)


Kiran Chander Asri                           Appellant(s)

                             VERSUS

State of Haryana                        Respondent(s)

                                  O R D E R
Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.
Leave granted.
This appeal is directed against the final order dated 28.05.2015  passed  by
the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh in  Criminal  Appeal  No.
CRA-S-1070-SB of 2005 whereby the learned Single Judge  of  the  High  Court
dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant herein and  affirmed  the  order
dated 04.06.2005 passed by the Special Judge, Sonepat in Sessions  Case  No.
10 of 1999/2005 by which the Special Judge  convicted  the  appellant  under
Sections 7 and 13 of the Prevention of  Corruption  Act,  1988  (hereinafter
referred to as “the  P.C.  Act”)  and  sentenced  him  to  undergo  rigorous
imprisonment for a period of two  years  and  a  fine  of   Rs.1000/-  under
Section 7 and rigorous imprisonment of two years and  a  fine  of  Rs.2000/-
under Section 13 of the P.C. Act.  In default of payment of fine,  he  shall
undergo further rigorous imprisonment of six  months.   Both  the  sentences
shall run concurrently.
3.    In order to appreciate the  issue  involved  in  this  appeal,  it  is
necessary to state the relevant facts in brief.
4.    On  12.08.1978,  the  appellant  joined  as  Lecturer  in  English  in
Education Department, Government of Haryana and was later selected as  Block
Development and Panchayat Officer and joined as such on 21.04.1993.
5.    In the year 1995, the appellant was posted as  Block  Development  and
Panchayat Officer Mundlana.   By  letter  dated  26.10.1994,  the  Director,
Development and Panchayats, Haryana issued instructions to  all  the  Deputy
Commissioners in the State of Haryana that no auction of village fish  ponds
should be done without adequate advertisement and  secondly,  it  should  be
done under  the  supervision  of  the  Committee  after  following  the  due
procedure of reserved price fixation by Fisheries Department.
6.     The Gram Panchayat  of  Mundlana  village  passed  a  resolution  for
auction of fish ponds in the  village  and  sent  it  for  approval  to  the
appellant,  who  fixed  the  auction  for  15.03.1995.   On  that  day,  the
appellant did not go to the village but deputed the Panchayat  Officer,  who
auctioned only the Panchayat land and refused to  auction  the  fish  ponds.
Thereafter the auction of the fish ponds was fixed for 22.03.1995.  On  that
day also due to the absence of the appellant, the  auction  could  not  take
place.  Thereafter  when   Ranbir  Singh  –  the  Sarpanch  of  the  Village
(Complainant) met the appellant, he demanded Rs.2000/- as bribe  to  conduct
the auction. The Complainant, however, expressed his inability  to  pay  the
bribe amount. The  appellant  then  negotiated  the  amount  of  bribe.   On
22.03.1995,  again  the  appellant  did  not  go  to  Mundlana  Village  and
postponed the auction for 06.04.1995 but at that time he  clearly  told  the
Complainant that so long as the bribe money is not paid to him, the  auction
would not be held.
7.    On 04.04.1995, the Sarpanch filed an application to  the  S.P.,  State
Vigilance Bureau (in short “SVB”),  Karnal  stating  therein  the  aforesaid
facts.  On receipt of the application, Mr.  M.S.  Ahlawat,  the  then  S.P.,
SVB, Karnal (in  short  “Investigating  Officer”)  wrote  a  letter  to  the
Government seeking permission to arrange the raid.  On  06.04.1995,  he  got
the permission from the Government to carry out  the  raid.   Thereafter  he
wrote a letter to the Deputy Commissioner, Sonepat to  depute  one  Gazetted
Officer for being joined in the raiding party.  As per the direction of  the
Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Ram  Mehar,  Xen,  Irrigation  joined  the  raiding
party.
8.    On 07.04.1995, the raiding party went to the office of the  appellant.
 Hari Chand, the Inspector was deputed as a shadow  witness  and  instructed
to give a  fixed  signal  by  moving  his  hand  over  the  head  after  the
acceptance of the bribe money by the appellant The Sarpanch-the  Complainant
and shadow witness went  to  the  office  of  the  appellant  and  after  10
minutes, the shadow witness passed the signal upon which the  raiding  party
went inside the office of the appellant and saw  him  putting  something  in
the  drawer.   The  Investigating  Officer  gave  his  introduction  to  the
appellant, who after some persuasion opened the  drawer  and  took  out  the
bribe money and handed over the same to the  Investigating  Officer.   After
that, the appellant was taken into custody.
9.    On that basis FIR No. 11 dated 07.04.1995  was  registered  at  Police
Station Vigilance Bureau, Karnal against the appellant under  Sections  7  &
13 of the P.C. Act.
10.   After completion of investigation, challan was submitted  against  the
appellant before the Special Court  to  face  the  trial.   The  prosecution
examined  ten  witnesses  and  in  defence,  the  appellant  examined  three
witnesses.
11.   Vide order dated 04.06.2005 the Special  Judge,  Sonepat  in  Sessions
Case No. 10 of 1999/2005 convicted the appellant under Sections 7 and 13  of
the P.C. Act and sentenced  him  to  undergo  rigorous  imprisonment  for  a
period of two years and a fine of  Rs.1000/- under Section  7  and  rigorous
imprisonment of two years and a fine of Rs.2000/- under Section  13  of  the
P.C. Act.  In default of payment of fine, he shall undergo further  rigorous
imprisonment of six months.  Both the sentences shall run  concurrently.  It
was held that the prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt  the
demand and acceptance of bribe money of Rs.2000/- by the appellant.
12.   Challenging the order of conviction and sentence, the appellant  filed
an appeal being CRA-S-1070-SB of 2005 before the High  Court.  By   judgment
dated 28.05.2005, the learned Single Judge of the High Court concurred  with
the findings of the Special  Judge  and  finding  no  merit,  dismissed  the
appeal and upheld the order passed by the Special Judge.
Aggrieved by the said  judgment,  the  appellant–  accused  has  filed  this
appeal by way of special leave.
14.   It is pertinent to mention here that by order  27.07.2015  this  Court
issued notice  to  the  respondent  only  on  the  question  of  quantum  of
punishment awarded to the appellant.
15.   In the light of the order dated 27.07.2015,  the only  question  which
arises for consideration  in this appeal is whether  having  regard  to  the
facts and circumstances of the case, any case is made out by  the  appellant
to call for any interference in the quantum of  punishment  awarded  to  him
by the two courts below and if so, to what extent.
16.   In view of this limited question, it is not necessary for  this  Court
to examine the merits of the case insofar  as  it  relates  to  the  issues,
which resulted in appellant's conviction for the offences  punishable  under
Sections 7 and 13 of the P.C. Act.
17.   Learned counsel for the appellant, confining  his  submission  to  the
quantum of punishment, submitted that keeping in view  the  fact  that  this
litigation is pending  for the last  20 years because  the  incident  is  of
the year 1995 (07.04.1995),  secondly, the appellant is now  quite  old  and
is suffering from various ailments, and further he has  lost  his  job   and
also undergone few months in jail as under trial and again  few  days  after
conviction, and lastly  looking  to  the  small  amount  of  bribe  involved
(Rs.2000/-),  this Court should take some lenient view  in  awarding  lesser
punishment and reduce it to minimum as prescribed in Sections 7  and  13  of
the P.C. Act prior to the amendment  in these sections.  It is  more  so  as
the learned counsel submits when this  Court  has  now  finally  upheld  the
appellant’s conviction.
18.   In contra, learned counsel for the respondent  supports  the  impugned
order.
19.   Having heard the learned counsel for the parties  and  on  perusal  of
the record of the case, we are inclined to  accept  the  submission  of  the
learned counsel for the appellant in part.
20.     Taking  into  consideration  the   totality   of   the   facts   and
circumstances of the case,  such  as  firstly,  the  incident  is  of  1995;
secondly, this litigation is pending for the last  20  years;  thirdly,  the
appellant is now quite old and suffering with ailments;   fourthly,  he  has
already lost his job, we consider it just and proper, in peculiar  facts  of
this case, to reduce the punishment awarded to the appellant from two  years
to that of one  year.
21.   Since at the relevant time when  the  offence  was  committed  by  the
appellant, the minimum punishment prescribed in Sections 7 and  13  was  six
months and one year respectively, which may extend to five years  and  seven
years respectively hence this Court can reduce the  punishment  of  2  years
awarded to the appellant to one year notwithstanding the amendment  made  in
Sections 7 and 13 by Act No. 1 of  2014  (w.e.f.16.01.2014)  which,  in  our
view, will not apply to the case of the appellant in the  light  of  Article
20 of the Constitution of India.
22.   In view of the  foregoing  discussion,  the  appeal  succeeds  and  is
hereby allowed in part. Impugned order is modified to the  extent  that  the
appellant is awarded one year punishment for the offences  punishable  under
Sections 7 and 13 of the P.C. Act.  So far as the  fine  amount  imposed  by
the Courts below is concerned, it is upheld. If the appellant  is  on  bail,
his bail bonds stand cancelled and he be taken  into  custody  forthwith  to
undergo the  remaining period of  sentence awarded by this Court.

                     ………...................................J.
                                  [J. CHELAMESWAR]


                  …...……..................................J.
                               [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]
      New Delhi;
September 17, 2015.

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