Mere recovery of tainted money not a ground for conviction: SC
New Delhi: A person cannot be convicted for
corruption on mere recovery of the tainted money unless the
charge is supported by substantive evidence, the Supreme Court
has ruled, upholding the acquittal of a college professor.
The apex court also said it was necessary to prove
that the accused voluntarily accepted the bribe for extending
a favour or fulfilling an obligation.
"Mere recovery of tainted money, divorced from the
circumstances under which it is paid, is not sufficient to
convict the accused when the substantive evidence in the case
is not reliable.
"The mere recovery by itself cannot prove the charge
of the prosecution against the accused. In the absence of any
evidence to prove payment of bribe or to show that the accused
voluntarily accepted money knowing it to be bribe, conviction
cannot be sustained," the bench said, quoting from its earlier
judgements in the Girish Babu (2009)and Suraj Mal(1979) cases.
A bench of justices Asok Kumar Ganguly and Deepak
Verma passed the judgement dismissing Kerala government`s
appeal challenging the High Court`s acquittal of professor C P
The apex court said the high court had rightly
acquitted the accused as the complainant was not examined by
the prosecution and there was sufficient evidence to prove
that the money was thrust upon him.
"Apart from that, it is the case of the respondent
that when CW 1 (complainant) met him in a hotel room, the
respondent shouted that some currency notes had been thrust
into his pocket by CW.
"Such shouts of the respondent were heard by PW 1 and
PW 2. The evidence of PW 1 and PW 2 were recorded by the trial
court. The evidence of PW 1 and PW 2 could not be, in any way,
shaken by manner of cross examination. PW 3 has also given
evidence of the previous animosity between the college
authorities and the respondent who had an occasion to file
reports with the college authorities on the basis of some
inspection," the apex court said.
The sessions court had earlier sentenced Rao to two
years imprisonment under the Prevention of Corruption Act for
allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 5000 from the complainant on
October 19, 1994, for giving pass marks to certain candidates
in all the subjects.
According to the prosecution, the accused professor
had sought the bribe for awarding pass marks to all students
who appeared in the practical examination of pharmaceutical-II
in D-Pharma final examination in the year 1994.
"It is an admitted case that the respondent alone
cannot give such marks. In view of the examination system
prevailing, such marks have to be approved by others. The
respondent alone, therefore, is admittedly not in a position
to allot higher marks," the bench said.
The bench agreed with the high court`s reasoning that
when there was no corroboration of the complainant`s testimony
regarding the bribe demand, the allegation has to be