In the case of State of Gujarat Vs. Navinbhai Chandrakant Joshi, the Supreme Court observed, with reference to Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (Public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act), that upon establishment of the possession of bribe money by the accused has been proved by the prosecution, it is upto the accused to give satisfactory reasons as to how the bribe money is in his possession and upon failure to do so, it shall be presumed as acceptance of the bribe by the accused.
The State of Gujarat had filed the said appeal challenging the reversal of the conviction by the trial court of the Respondent on the grounds that there was no recovery from Respondent and that the demand and acceptance by the Respondents has not been proved by the prosecution.
The Bench of Hon’ble Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Hon’ble Justice R Banumathi made the observation that upon proving the demand and acceptance of a bribe by evidence, the High Court erred in holding that the demand and acceptance of the same has not been proved. The Bench made a reference to the judgment in B. Jayaraj v. State of A.P (2014) 13 SCC 55 wherein it was held that:-
“7. Insofar as the offence under Section 7 is concerned, it is a settled position in law that demand of illegal gratification is sine qua non to constitute the said offence and mere recovery of currency notes cannot constitute the offence under Section 7 unless it is proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused voluntarily accepted the money knowing it to be a bribe. The above position has been succinctly laid down in several judgments of this Court.”
The Bench further made specific reference to the judgment in C.M.
Girish Babu v. C.B.I. Cochin, High Court of Kerala (2009) 3 SCC 779, which held that:-
“21. It is well settled that the presumption to be drawn under Section 20 is not an inviolable one. The accused charged with the offence could rebut it either through the cross-examination of the witnesses cited against him or by adducing reliable evidence….
22. It is equally well settled that the burden of proof placed upon the accused person against whom the presumption is made under Section 20 of the Act is not akin to that of burden placed on the prosecution to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt…”
Giving its reasoning, the Bench set aside the judgment of the High Court and affirmed the conviction of the Respondents under Section 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Act.
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