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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Section 7 ,Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the P.C. Act.=The High Court held that it is not satisfactorily proved that how the currency notes reached in the pocket of accused. It is also not proved that colour of currency note did not turn pink. In the opinion of the High Court when these two material facts were not satisfactorily proved with the aid of evidence adduced by the prosecution, the accused is entitled to claim the benefit of doubt and hence can not be convicted for the offences in question.=The High Court has given its reasoning as to why it has reversed the finding of the Trial Court. It is one of the possible views, which the High Court is capable to take on appreciation of evidence and it has so taken. It is a settled principle of law that if the view taken by the High Court while reversing the judgment of the Trial Court appears to be just and reasonable and which is supported by cogent reasoning then this Court would not re-appreciate the evidence again especially when the appeal arises out of the order of acquittal. It is only when the High Court while reversing the judgment of the Trial Court fails to record any reason or fails to appreciate the evidence or when the High Court records any material finding which is wholly perverse or against any provision of law, this Court would examine the issues arising in the case and in appropriate case may interfere. Such is not the case here. In our view, the High Court has given cogent reasons in support of its view and we have not been able to notice any infirmity or perversity in the reasoning of the High Court, which may persuade us to interfere in the impugned order. In these circumstances, there is no need to undertake the exercise of appreciating the whole evidence in this appeal.All the submissions urged by the learned counsel for the appellant (State) are on facts and involved appreciation of evidence. He was not able to point out any legal or jurisdictional error or/and extreme perversity in the reasoning of the High Court, which may persuade us to probe into evidence de novo. We thus decline to accept the submissions and also decline to re-appreciate the evidence.

                                                              Non-Reportable

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 736 OF 2008



      State of Kerala                              Appellant(s)





                             VERSUS





      P. Muhammed Noushad             Respondent(s)



                               J U D G M E N T



Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.

1)    This appeal is filed by the  State  against  the  final  judgment  and
order dated 09.08.2004 passed by the High Court of Kerala  at  Ernakulam  in
Criminal Appeal No. 496 of 2000 whereby the Single Judge of the  High  Court
set aside the order dated 29.07.2000 passed by the Trial Court in  C.C.  No.
21 of 1999 convicting the respondent  herein  for  the  offences  punishable
under Sections  7  and  13(1)(d)  read  with  13(2)  of  the  Prevention  of
Corruption Act, 1988 (hereinafter  referred  to  as  “the  P.C.  Act”)   and
sentenced him to  undergo rigorous imprisonment for a term  of  three  years
with a fine of Rs.25,000/- in default to  undergo  simple  imprisonment  for
one year under Section 7 of the P.C. Act  and rigorous  imprisonment  for  a
term of four years under Section 13(1)(d) read with  Section  13(2)  of  the
P.C. Act.

2)    In short, the case of the prosecution was as under:

      The respondent-accused was a Village officer, Vijayapuram in  Kottayam
District.  There was a property dispute between PW-2 (Complainant)  and  his
sister-in-law.  The sister-in-law submitted  a  complaint  to  the  District
Collector  on  01.09.1998.   The  District  Collector   (PW-1)   immediately
directed an enquiry through the  respondent-Village  Officer  (accused)  and
directed him to submit a report before 15.09.1998.

3)     On  10.09.1998,  the  respondent-accused  demanded  gratification  of
Rs.500/- from PW-2  for  forwarding  a  favourable  enquiry  report  to  the
District Magistrate. On the same day, the complainant  paid  the  accused  a
sum of  Rs.300/-.   Thereafter  on  19.09.1998,  the  accused  demanded  the
balanced sum of Rs.200/- from PW-2 and agreed to send a  favourable  report.


4)    On 24.09.1998, PW-2 reported the illegal demand of the accused to  the
officials of vigilance department.  Thereafter, on 26.09.1998, PW-2  made  a
formal complaint (Ex.P-3), F.I. statement  and  produced  M.O.1  notes  (two
notes of hundred rupees denomination) each before the Vigilance officer.

5)    After registering the FIR, the Dy.S.P.  affixed  identification  marks
on the notes and after applying Phenolphthalein powder on the notes,  placed
them in the pocket of  PW-2 with a direction to  make  the  payment  to  the
accused if, demanded.

6)    At the time  of  trap,  PW-3  (Agricultural  Officer,  Krishi  Bhavan,
Erattupetta) and Additional Tahsildar, Taluk Officer, Meenachil (PW-4)  were
present.  After completion of the formalities of the trap team,  PW-2  alone
went inside the village officer’s room.  On seeing PW-2, the  accused  asked
for the balanced amount and PW-2 tendered the amount  to  the  accused,  who
after receiving the same placed the same in his shirt’s pocket.

7)    Thereafter, PW-2 came out of the room and conveyed the signal and  the
trap team arrived there.  After investigation, the accused  was  apprehended
and subsequently charge sheet was filed against the accused under Section  7
and Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the  P.C.  Act  against  the
accused.

8)    During the trial, the prosecution examined  seven  witnesses  and  the
defence examined three witnesses.

9)    By order dated  29.07.2000  the  trial  Judge  convicted  the  accused
under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of the P.C. Act and  sentenced
him to  undergo rigorous imprisonment for a term of three years with a  fine
of Rs.25,000/-, in default to  undergo  simple  imprisonment  for  one  year
under Section 7 of the P.C. Act  and rigorous imprisonment  for  a  term  of
four years under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the  P.C.  Act.


10)   Challenging the said order, the accused filed  an  appeal  before  the
High Court.  The Single Judge of the High  Court  by  impugned  order  dated
09.08.2004 set aside the order of conviction and  acquitted  the  respondent
of the charges leveled against him.

11)   The High Court  appreciated  the  evidence  and  on  its  appreciation
recorded its disagreement with the reasoning of the Trial  Court.  The  High
Court held that it is not satisfactorily proved that how the currency  notes
reached in the pocket of accused. It is  also  not  proved  that  colour  of
currency note did not turn pink.  In the opinion  of  the  High  Court  when
these two material facts were not satisfactorily  proved  with  the  aid  of
evidence adduced by the prosecution, the accused is entitled  to  claim  the
benefit of doubt and  hence  can  not  be  convicted  for  the  offences  in
question. It is with these findings,  the  High  Court  allowed  the  appeal
filed by the accused and set aside his conviction.

12)   Aggrieved by the said order, the State has filed this  appeal  by  way
special leave before this Court.

13)   Heard Mr. Nikilesh Ramachandran, learned counsel  for  the  appellant-
State and Mr. V.K. Sidharthan, learned counsel for the respondent-accused.

14)   As mentioned above, this is a case where  the  Trial  Court  convicted
the accused-respondent of the offences alleged against him under the PC  Act
whereas the High Court on appreciation of  evidence  finding  fault  in  the
manner of appreciation done by the Trial Court reversed the judgment of  the
Trial Court and acquitted the respondent on the findings mentioned  in  para
11 giving rise to filing of this appeal by the State.

15)   We have perused the  order  of  the  High  Court.  In  our  considered
opinion, the view taken by the High Court as detailed in para  11  above  is
based on appreciation  of  evidence  and  the  same  was  taken  within  its
jurisdiction.  The High Court has given its  reasoning  as  to  why  it  has
reversed the finding of the Trial Court. It is one of  the  possible  views,
which the High Court is capable to take on appreciation of evidence  and  it
has so taken.

16)   It is a settled principle of law that if the view taken  by  the  High
Court while reversing the judgment of the Trial Court  appears  to  be  just
and reasonable and which is supported by cogent reasoning  then  this  Court
would not re-appreciate  the  evidence  again  especially  when  the  appeal
arises out of the order of acquittal.

17)   It is only when the High Court while reversing  the  judgment  of  the
Trial Court fails to record any reason or fails to appreciate  the  evidence
or when the  High  Court  records  any  material  finding  which  is  wholly
perverse or  against any provision of law,  this  Court  would  examine  the
issues arising in the case and in appropriate case may  interfere.  Such  is
not the case here.

18)   In our view, the High Court has given cogent  reasons  in  support  of
its view and we have not been able to notice any infirmity or perversity  in
the reasoning of the High Court, which may persuade us to interfere  in  the
impugned order. In these circumstances, there is no need  to  undertake  the
exercise of appreciating the whole evidence in this appeal.

19)   All the submissions urged by the learned  counsel  for  the  appellant
(State) are on facts and involved appreciation of evidence. He was not  able
to point out any legal or jurisdictional error or/and extreme perversity  in
the reasoning of the High  Court,  which  may  persuade  us  to  probe  into
evidence de novo. We  thus  decline  to  accept  the  submissions  and  also
decline to re-appreciate the evidence.

20)   In the light of  foregoing  discussion,  there  is  no  merit  in  the
appeal. The appeal thus fails and is accordingly dismissed.

                                    .……...................................J.
                [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]



                                     ………..................................J.
                [ASHOK BHUSHAN]

New Delhi,
June 29, 2016
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