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JAGAT SINGH v UNION OF INDIA - CRLA Case No. 623 of 2002  RD-RJ 2985 (29 May 2007)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE FOR RAJASTHAN
DR.JAGAT SINGH VERSUS. U.O.I THROUGH CBI
S.B. Criminal Appeal No.623/2002 under
Section 374(2) Cr.P.C. against the
Judgment and order dated 30.7.2002 passed in Special Criminal Case No.05/97 passed by Sh. Ram Chandra , RHJS,
Special Judge C.B.I.cases,Jodhpur.
May, 29th 2007.
DATE OF JUDGMENT : l
PRE S ENT
HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE CHATRA RAM JAT
Mr. G.R.Punia , counsl for the appellant.
Mr.Panney Singh ,Counsel for Union of India through C.B.I.
BY THE COURT: 1. This appeal is directed against the judgment and order dated 30.7.2002 passed by the Special Judge C.B.I. Cases
Jodhpur, whereby he convicted the appellant for offences under Section 7,and 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of
Prevention of Corruption Act,1988 and sentenced as under :-
Under Section 7 : Imprisonment for two years R.I. and to pay fine of Rs.5000/- and in default of payment of fine, ordered to under go three months Simple Imprisonment.
Under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) 2 years R.I. and a fine of
Rs.5000/- and in default of payment of fine,ordered to undergo three months Simple
Both the sentences will run concurrently. 2. The brief facts of this appeal which are necessary to dispose of this appeal, in nut shell, are as follows :
According to the version of the prosecution, on 28th
June,1996, one complainant Sahdeo Prasad gave a written report Ex.P-18 to the Superintendent of Police, C.B.I. Jaipur stating that he was working in Mayur Raj Spinning & weaving Mills
Ltd., Haringpur, Gulabpura and he sustained injury to his finger while working on a machine on 22.6.96,therefore, he approached to Medical Officer for medical sick leave from E.S.I. Hospital,
Gulabpura. After examination, medical officer wrote a medical prescription detailing medicines on 24.6.96 but refused to issue medical certificate and demanded bribe of Rs.50/- for issuance of the medical sick certificate. It was also narrated that being a poor worker of Bihar side, he is not in a position to pay Rs.50/- and decided to get trapped the doctor for demanding bribe so he lodged report on said date before the S.P., C.B.I. Jaipur.
Appellant Dr.Jagat Singh called him on 29 6.1996 with birbe money for said certificate and without money he will not issue any medical certificate to him so requested for legal proceedings. This was verified and seen by the C.B.I. Officers and thereafter five notes of denomination of Rs.10/- each were given to Sahdeo
Prasad after smearing in phenolphthalein power which were having under mentioned details :
(i). 55C 492995
(ii) 24W 181770
(iii) G66 791547
(iv) E/9 967078
(v) 66T 492752
The above said Govt. currency Notes well smeared with phenolphthalein powder. A demonstration for application, use and importance of phenolphthalein and Sodium carbonate powder during trap proceedings given by Shri Banshidhar- Head
Constable and currency notes were given to Shadeo Prasad
(decoy) complainant which he kept in left hand side upper pocket of wearing shirt . At this stage Shadeo Prasad was also instructed not to touch the said G.C notes till he passes the same to
Dr.Jagat Singh Choudhary, on his demand. He was also instructed not shake hand with Dr.Jagat Singh at any stage and gave signal by putting his hand over his head after passing of bribe amount to Dr.Jagat Singh having obtained the Medical fitness certificate. Similar instructions were also given to the witnesses to remain close to the complainant and try to over hear the conversation likely to take place between Dr. Jagat
Singh and Shadeo Prasad if possible and also try to watch the transference of birbe amount. Similar instructions were given to all the party members. Shri Sanjay Sharma witness was asked to remain close to Shadeo Prasad and act as shadow witness. All these contents were signed by members of the trap party. 3. On the basis of the above written report by Sahdeo
Prasad (decoy), a trap was prepared by the team of C.B.I.
Officers and doctor was caught red handed and recovered the said money of Rs.50/- with the aforesaid five notes having same numbers each from upper pocket of the shirt of appellant Dr.
Jagat Singh and when pocket of the shirt was washed then water tuned into pink colour. 4. Thereafter investigation was handed over to Dy.
Superintendent of Police Shri R.D.Kalia who recorded evidence of witnesses and pink colour water of washed pocked was filled in bottles and sent for chemical examination and permission for prosecution was sought and after completing investigation, challan was filed against the accused Dr.Jagat Singh.. 5. Charges against the accused appellant Dr.Jagat Singh under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the
Prevention of Corruption Act were framed and read over to him and he denied the same and claimed for trial. 6. Prosecution produced in all 18 witnesses,namely, PW1
Ramadevi,PW2 Vidhya Choudhary, PW3 Meghraj Singh, PW4
Sukhram, PW5 Ram Kishor PW6 Jagdish Soni, PW 7, Rajeshwar
Acharya, PW8 M.L.Vashnav, PW9 Sanjay Sharma, PW10
Ghanshyam Soni, PW11 Rajkumar, PW12 MohanLal Sharma,
PW13 Jasodanandan, PW14 Sahdeo Prasad (decoy),
PW15K.S.Chhabra, P.W 16 Mool Singh,PW 17 Rameshwar Dayal
Swami and P.W.18 R.D.Kaliya and Ex.P-1 to Ex.P.46 documents were exhibited.
Statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C recorded in which 7. appellant accused Dr.Jagat Singh denied the charges and stated that bribe money was not demanded and alleged amount of bribe was forcibly thrusted in his pocket by Sahdeo Prasad
(decoy) with the help officials of CBI team and also given beating by them and after trap, fitness certificate was given under pressure and complainant (decoy) is a notorious and mischievous person. He pleaded innocence. No witnesses was examined, however, in defence by the accused. 8. Learned trial Judge on hearing final submissions, convicted and sentenced the appellant as indicated hereinabove.
So this appeal. 9. Heard learned counsel for the appellant and the learned
Public Prosecutor and perused the record of the case. 10. Learned counsel for the appellant vehemently assailed the findings of the learned trial Court and made submissions as under:-
Learned counsel for the appellant states that neither any demand was made nor accepted illegal gratification. The alleged recovery of the amount without demand from the appellant is insignificant. Learned counsel for the appellant further urged that the learned trial court failed to consider the fact of sickness certificate and without which no fitness certificate can be made as per the procedure. Sickness certificate can not be issued anti-dated because it is prepared serial-wise. Issuance of
Ex.P-9 and Ex.P.10 (fitness certificate) have been issued for
Sahdeo Prasad (decoy) bearing serial No.60213 are in duplicate and they are one and the same thing which was issued under force and pressure so it is not relevant and material. Learned counsel for the Appellant also urged that alleged amount of birbe was forcibly thrusted by the Sahdeo Prasad (decoy) in the pocket of the appellant at the instance of two C.B.I. Officers who caught the hands of appellant. Thus, there is no reliable evidence of demanding and accepting the illegal gratification of money because P.W.5 Ram Kishore, P.W.6 Jagdish Soni and
PW9 Sanjay Sharma have been declared hostile and Banshidhar and Ramjilal neither listed in witness list nor produced hence evidence of prosecution is not atall reliable and is doubtful so the benefit of doubt should be given to the appellant. 13. Learned counsel for the appellant also contended that when demand by the accused has not been proved, the presumption of accepting money cannot be raised, there should be independent and trustworthy corroboration of the evidence of trap witnesses as complainant is in the character of an accomplice so the corroboration in material particulars is a must. Evidence of hostile witnesses cannot be believed and solitary statement of decoy witnesses cannot be accepted without independent corroboration and when two version emerges from the prosecution evidence, one favours the accused should prevail. In case of rebuttal of evidence against presumption, nature of burden on accused is not required the same standard of proof as that of prosecution. Learned counsel relied on the following rulings for submitted arguments : 1.2007 Cri.L.J.754 (S.C.)
V. Venkata Subbarao v. State represented by Inspector of Police Aandhra Prasad. 2.AIR 1974 SC 218(V61 C 35)
Darshan Lal vs The Delhi Administration. 3. (1979) 4 Supreme Court Cases 526
Panalal Damodar Rathi vs State of Maharashtra 4. Cr.L.R(Raj) 1976 page 591
Manohar Lal vs The State of Rajasthan 5. 1993(3) Western Law Cases (Raj) 147
Amar Chand Gupta 6. 1997 Cr.L.R(Raj) 330
Laxmi Narain Goyal vs State of Rajasthan 14. Per contra, learned Special Public Prosecutor supported the impugned finding and urged that the appellant was rightly convicted and sentenced. He submits that there is strong and concrete evidence of the prosecution which proved the case of the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt against accused appellant having recovered of bribe money, of the tainted five notes of Rs.Ten denomination having same numbers. He also submitted that other independent witnesses has proved that bribe was demanded and accepted by the accused appellant and compliance of Section 7 of the Act was fully made in accordance with law. He further submits that sanction of the prosecution was granted in accordance with law before prosecuting government servant. Learned Special P.P. further urged that the testimony of hostile witnesses may be made basis for the conviction, if it is corroborated by the other prosecution evidence, to the extent corroborated. The evidence of police officer who laid trap is legal and reliable having no necessity of corroboration and recovery of bribe money leads the circumstance that accused received gratification and because of such of the presumption the burden shifts on the accused and the minor contradictions of prosecution witnesses should be ignored. When evidence for illegal gratification is clear and cogent the conviction should be be upheld. Learned P.P. for the CNB has put reliance on the following judgments:- [ 1] AIR 2000 Supreme Court 3480,
Kothakalav Naga Subba Reddy & Ors. Vs. P.P., High Court of Andhra Pradesh  AIR 2001 Supreme Court 3173,
Anil Rai Vs. State of Bihar reported  AIR 2000 Supreme Court 210,
Koli Lakhmanbhai Chanabhai Vs. State of Gujarat  AIR 2001 Supreme Court 147,
Madhukar Bhaskarro Joshi Vs. State of Maharashtra  AIR 1980 SC 873,
Haxari Lal Vs. The State [Delhi Admn.],  AIR 1974 Supreme Court 773,
Mahesh Prasad Gupta Vs. State of Rajasthan  AIR 1973 SC 707;
Jaswant Singh Vs. State of Punjab  1997 Cr.Law Reporter. [SC] 335
C.K.Damodaran Nair Vs. Govt. of India  1998 Cr.Law Journal . [SC] 863
State of UP Vs. Zakaullah  Cr.Law Reporter.1983(SC) 490
State of U.P.Dr.G.K.Ghosh.
Learned Special P.P. urged that the judgment of the learned trial court should be upheld and the appeal deserves to be dismissed. 15. Factual situation emerges from the material on record may be summarised as under :-
(i) Complainant Sahdeo Prasad P.W.14 (decoy) got injury on 22.6.1996 on the finger of hand and for which he was prescribed treatment by compounder Raj Kumar Jain and again medicines were prescribes by the appellant Dr.Jagat Singh on 24.6.1996.
(ii) Alleged demand of Rs.50/- as bribe money was made by
Appellant Dr.Jagat Singh and without payment of that bribe money, he did not issue required certificate to complainant
Shadeo Prasda and complainant not being interested in giving the demanded bribe money,approached to the
C.B.I.Jaipur and gave a report Ex.P-18 for legal action by
C.B.I., against appellant by way of trap.
(iii) On the basis of the Report Ex-P 18, CBI team headed by
Shri Mool Singh P.W.16 along with other team members and independent witnesses with decoy Shadeo Prasad a trap was arranged on 29.6.1996 at ESI Dispensary ,
(iv) On trap Rs.80 including Rs.50/- mentioned numbers hereinabove smeared with phenolphthalein were recovered vide recovery memo Ex.P-20 at the trap and documents
Ex.P.1,Ex.P-8, Ex.P.9 and Ex.P.10 were recovered vide recovery Memo Ex.P.42 and after investigation challan was filed for the offence indicated above.
For proving the case against appellant the evidence of P.W.9 Sanjay Sharma, P.W.10 Ghanshyam
Soni P.W.14, Sahdeo Prasad (decoy) P.W.16, Mool Singh and P.W.17 Rameshwar Dayal Swami is very important among prosecution evidence, as observed by the learned trial Court in Para No.8 of the Judgment.
In this respect it is clear that as per prosecution evidence , at the time of trap beside the appellant Dr.Jagat
Singh, there were patients, staff members, trap team members, Sahdeo Prasad (decoy) were present at the spot or nearby. Admittedly P.W.5 Ram Kishore, PW6 Jagdish
Soni, P.W.9 Sanjay Sharma have been declared hostile,who have not supported the version of the prosecution. RD
Kaliya P.W 18 also admitted the fact that P.W.6 Jagdish Soni was no present at the time of trap. 16. As per evidence of P.W.16 Mool Singh, Banshidhar and Ramjilal were present at the time of trap but neither both of them listed as witnesses nor produced in evidence. 17. As to remaining evidence of prosecution P.W.14
Shadeo Prasad complainant deposed that injury received on the finguer of hand on 22.6.96 he approached the accused appellant Dr.Jagat Singh who prescribed medicines on 24.6.94 and demanded bribe for issuing necessary certificate and as he was not interested in giving bribe so requested to
CBI for trap and accordingly trap was arranged by CBI on 29.6.96 and as per demand of appellant money was handed over to appellant and after taking the money, appellant prepared the required medical certificate Ex.P-9 and Ex.P-10 and on signal by him the CBI team caught red handed appellant and recovered the 5 tainted currency note of Rs.10/- denomination and also other memos and papers. P.W.10
Ghanshaym Soni, P.W.16 Mool Singh and P.W.17 R.D.Swami deposed in their statements that as per report of the complainant Shadeo Prasad (decoy), trap was arranged and after getting signal of giving bribe the accused appellant was caught red handed with money in the trap with same numbers of currency notes and necessary memos and papers were prepared and also deposed that appellant Dr.Jagat Singh with hesitation accepted that money was taken but there was no demand. 18. It is well settled principle that primarily the burden is on the prosecution to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt and when on presumption burden shifts to accused, such burden of proof and the standard of proof is to be judged by the preponderance of probabilities. It is also settled position that the criminal cases are decided on facts and on evidence as held by the Hon'ble Apex Court in the the matter of
Sayarabano @ Sultana Begum Vs. State of Maharashtra reported in 2007 AIR SCW 1136 in Para 16 at Page 1140wherein held that criminal cases are decided on facts and on evidence rather than on case law and precedents. As to the burden of proof under Indian Evidence Act is a question which must be determined by reference to be proved. It is ultimately a matter of appreciation of evidence and, therefore, each case must rests on its own facts.
The Hon'ble Apex Court in the matter of Vikramjit 19.
Singh @ Vicky Vs. State of Punjab 2006 AIR SCW 6197 in para No.14 and 15 [partly] held as under:-
"It may be that in a situation of this nature where the court legitimately may raise a strong suspicion that in all probabilities the accused was guilty of commission of heinous offence but applying the well-settled principle of law that suspicion, however, grave may be, cannot be a substitute for proof, the same would lead to the only conclusion herein that the prosecution has not been able to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt. ....
"Certainly, it is a primary principle that the accused must be and not merely may be guilty before a court can convict and the mental distance between 'may be' and 'must be' is long and divides vague conjectures from sure conclusions."
Hon'ble Apex Court for hostile witnesses in
Vikramjit Singh [Supra] in Para 21 again held as under:-
"Furthermore, as noticed hereinbefore, the prosecution witnesses have turned hostile. It may be an act of dishonesty on their part as contended by Mrs.
Kochar but by reason thereof only we cannot hold the appellant guilty of commission of heinous offence. In view of their statements in the cross examination giving a complete go-bye to what had been stated in the examination-in-chief, it is not possible to rely upon a part of their statement." 20. I am conscious of the fact that learned trial Court accepted the evidence of the complainant Shadeo Prasad P.W.14
(decoy) that on demand the accused appellant after receiving bribe of Rs.50/- , he voluntarily issued Ex.P.9 and Ex.P.10 and found appellant guilty. The tainted currency notes which were recovered, from the said pocket of the accused. Admittedly, it is based on the sole testimony of complainant (decoy) as P.W. 5, Ram Kishore
P.W.6 Jagdish Soni and P.W.9 Sanjay Sharma have been declared hostile. Admittedly, Banshidhar and Ramjilal have not been examined by the prosecution. The testimony of complainant
(decoy) is always held to be interested one and the Court has to view the corroboration from independent and trustworthy witnesses is to be sought for, for actual offer and acceptance and bribe and over hearing conversations that took place between accused appellant and the decoy. It is well settled that where there is sole evidence of only decoy witnesses about taking of bribe by the accused and there is no other evidence either direct or otherwise and the explanation given by the accused is probabile, the conviction of accused is not proper. In other words a person who offers bribe and another person who goes with him are clearly witnesses who are agents provocateur whose evidence needs corroboration. The uncorroborated evidence of a witness who would be characterised as an accomplice being a bribe giver is unworthy of credit. 21. In bribery case the complainant is a partisan witness and it is not safe to rely upon his uncorroborated evidence. The evidence of a police investigating officer ( trap witness) who is interested in securing a conviction, is unworthy of credit, and there is no reason why the principles applicable to the one type of witness who is unworthy of credit, viz an accomplice should not apply to another type of witness who is unworthy of credit for different reasons. It is not safe to rely upon the evidence of trap witnesses without independent and trustworthy corroboration. 22. Court has to view the evidence in the light of circumstances, probabilities and intrinsic credibility of the witnesses, as to evidence in case in hand, it is clear that Meghraj
P.W.3 was in-charge of the dispensary, who deposed about Ex.P.8,
Ex.P.9, Ex.P.10 and Ex.P.12 etc. He further deposed in his cross examination that - "
( ) ,
" P.W.4 Sukhram also deposed that on 29.6.96 there was ' 0 ' ( 'Hangama'). P.W.10 Ghanshyam Soni deposed that
E.S.I. Hospital reached about 8 or 8.15 A.M. and after 1 hour
Sahdeo Prasad told that doctor has arrived and again after 20-25 minutes later on he with CBI Officers went to doctors' chamber and he saw that both the hands of doctor was caught hold by two officials and Mool Singh CBI Inspector was with him. 23. The crucial point for determination in this appeal is to consider whether there was demand of bribe and acceptance or the money thrusted forcibly by Sahdeo Prasad in the pocket of accused appellant. This is a delicate but very important point for the decision of the appeal. As per prosecution evidence Banshi Dhar and Ramjilal both caught hold hands of the accused appellant
Dr.Jagat Singh when he reached in the room. Thus, it is clear that bribe money was not given by Sahdeo Prasad in presence of P.W. 10 Ghanshyam , P.W. 16 Mool Singh, P.W.17Rameshwar Dayal
Swami. Admittedly, in this respect presence of both Banshidhar and Ramjilal is very important and it is bounden duty of the prosecution to personally knowing the whole circumstances of the case to give evidence in this behalf and to submit for cross- examination. It is the choice of the prosecution to pick and choose for examining witnesses but non appearance as witness would strongest possible circumstance going to discredit the truth of the prosecution case. 24. Having closely scanned the material on record, as mentioned above, P.W.5 Ram Kishore, P.W.6 Jagdish Soni and
P.W. 9 Sanjay Sharma declared hostile and not supported prosecution and Banshidhar and Ramjilal were not produced by the prosecution. Fitness certificate Ex.P.9 and Ex.P-10 issued for sickness/ disablement dated 10.4.96 instead for 22.6.96 In my opinion, it is a fit case where trial Court should have required independent and trustworthy corroboration of the evidence of P.W. 14 Shadeo Prasad, as there is no such corroboration,therefore, appellant should be given benefit of doubt. Thus allegation of demanding bribe in circumstances mentioned above is a naked lie having no foundation. The story of demand falls through and once it is fallen through the authenticity of the trap becomes highly suspicious because acceptance of bribe germinates through demand and without any demand, the bribe is not likely to be accepted in view of the fact that the evidence of demand of bribe constitutes back bone of an offence under the Prevention of
Corruption Act and that being so, failure to prove demand renders the prosecution case in its entirety as highly suspicious and not acceptable. The circumstances only creates suspicion against appellant which cannot be a substitute for a proof. That being so the appellant is entitled to the benefit of doubt. Learned trial Court did not properly considered this aspect of the matter, as noticed above and committed illegality in convicting and sentencing the appellant.
So the order of trial Court convicting and sentencing the appellant cannot be held to be sustainable. The appellant is entitled to an acquittal. 25. For the reasons mentioned above, I allow the appeal of the appellant and set aside the finding of conviction and sentence rendered by the learned trial Court vide impugned judgment dated 30.7.2002 and acquit the appellant - Dr.Jagat Singh of the charges under Sections 7 and under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13
(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act,1988. The appellant- Dr.
Jagat Singh is on bail, his bail bonds are, hereby,discharged and need not to surrender. Record of the trial Court be sent back immediately. [CHATRA RAM JAT],J.
DR.JAGAT SINGH VERSUS. U.O.I THROUGH CBI
S.B. Criminal Appeal No.623/2002
HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE CHATRA RAM JAT
Mr. G.R.Punia , counsl for the appellant.
Mr.Panney Singh ,Counsel for Union of India through C.B.I.
Judgment pronounced in open Court. Operative portion of judgment reads as under :
"For the reasons mentioned above, I allow the appeal of the appellant and set aside the finding of conviction and sentence rendered by the learned trial Court vide impugned judgment dated 30.7.2002 and acquit the appellant - Dr.Jagat Singh of the charges under Sections 7 and under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13
(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act,1988. The appellant- Dr.
Jagat Singh is on bail, his bail bonds are, hereby,discharged and need not to surrender. Record of the trial Court be sent back immediately.
(See separate judgment) [CHATRA RAM JAT],J.
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