The State of Kerala Versus M. Karunakaran Etc

The State of Kerala Versus M. Karunakaran Etc

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



NON­REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
    Criminal Appeal No.(s)        924­925            /2022
    (@SLP (Crl) No.(s)     6241­6242/2022 @ D. No. 6034 OF 2020)
The State of Kerala      ..Appellant(S)
Versus
M. Karunakaran Etc.                  ..Respondent(S)
J U D G M E N T
M. R. Shah, J.
In the facts and circumstances of the case and the
offence alleged against the accused is punishable under the
Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and the issue involved in
the present appeal is a pure question of law and facts,
therefore, the delay caused in preferring the present appeal
is hereby condoned. Leave granted.    
1. Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
common judgment and order dated 22.02.2018 passed by
the High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam in Criminal Appeal
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Nos. 915/2008 and 1021/2008, by which, the High Court
has   allowed   the   said   appeals,   preferred   by   the   original
accused Nos. 1 and 2 and consequently has acquitted both
the accused for the offences punishable under Sections 7
and 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of
Corruption   Act,   the   State   has   preferred   the   present
appeal(s). 
2. As per the prosecution case, accused Nos. 1 and 2 while
working   as   Excise   Prevention   Officers,   Excise   Range,
Hosdurg visited Toddy Shop No.36, Ambalathara, Hosdurg,
Taluk at about 7:30 pm on 21.03.2001 and threatened Shri
P.J. Joseph, who was looking after the affairs of the shop
and demanded Rs. 2,000/­ from him. They asked him to
bring   the   said   amount   at   the   Excise   Range   Office   on
24.03.2001.   As   PW1   –   original   complainant   lodged   a
complaint against the accused persons with the Vigilance
Department on 24.03.2001, a FIR was registered on the said
complaint   by   the   Vigilance   Dy.SP.   After   completing   the
necessary formalities at 3:15 pm the raid party and PW8
reached the Excise Range Office and the PW1 was informed
to give signal to the Policemen who were standing on the
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road side after giving the money to the accused persons. As
per   the   case   of   the   prosecution,   in   pursuance   of   the
demand, accused Nos. 1 and 2 accepted an amount of Rs.
1,000/­ and Rs. 500/­, respectively from the complainant at
3:35 pm  on  24.03.2001  at  the  Excise  Range  Office and
thereby, committed offences punishable under Sections 7
and 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of
Corruption   Act.   The   investigating   officer   filed   the
chargesheet against the accused for the aforesaid offences.
Both came to be tried by the learned Special Court and they
denied the charges levelled against them. 
2.1 To prove the charges the prosecution examined in all nine
witnesses   including   PW1   –   complainant   and   PW2   –   an
independent   witness.   The   accused   examined   DW1,   the
owner of the shop in their defence. That on appreciation of
the evidence on record, learned Special Court held both the
accused guilty for the aforesaid offences and convicted them
and   imposed   a   sentence.   The   learned   Special   Court
sentenced   accused   No.   1  to   undergo   two   years   rigorous
imprisonment (RI) each and to pay a fine of Rs. 2,000/­
each and in default to six months RI and sentenced accused
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No. 2 to undergo one year RI each and to pay a fine of Rs.
1,000/­ each and in default to undergo three months RI.
2.2 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and
order   of   sentence   and   conviction   passed   by   the   learned
Special Court, the original accused preferred appeals before
the High Court. By the impugned common judgment and
order the High Court has allowed the said appeals and has
acquitted the accused for the offences for which they were
convicted. 
2.3 Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
common  judgment   and   order   passed   by   the   High   Court
acquitting the accused, the State has preferred the present
appeals with a delay of 632 days in preferring the appeal(s). 
3. Having gone through the impugned common judgment and
order passed by the High Court acquitting the accused for
the offences under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) read with Section
13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, it is apparent that
the High Court has acquitted the accused mainly on the
ground that the twin conditions of demand and acceptance
has not been established and proved. The High Court has
heavily relied upon the decision of this Court in the case of
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Mukhtiar   Singh   (since   deceased)   through   his   LR   Vs.
State  of  Punjab;  (2017)  8  SCC  136. On the other hand,
learned counsel appearing on behalf of the State has relied
upon a three­judge bench decision of this Court in the case
of M. Narsinga Rao Vs. State of A.P.; (2001) 1 SCC 691.
3.1 It is brought to our notice that having found conflict with
the decisions of two and three judge benches of this Court
in the cases of  B.  Jayaraj  Vs.  State  of  Andhra  Pradesh;
(2014)   13   SCC   55   and   P.   Satyanarayana   Murthy   Vs.
District Inspector of Police, State of Andhra Pradesh and
Another; (2015) 10 SCC 152 with that of an earlier three
judge   bench   decision   of   this   Court   in   the   case   of  M.
Narsinga Rao (supra) regarding nature and quality of proof
necessary   to   sustain   conviction   for   the   offences   under
Sections   7   and   13(1)(d)   read   with   Section   13(2)   of   the
Prevention   of   Corruption   Act,   1988   when   the   primary
evidence is unavailable, subsequently the three judge bench
of this Court in the case of Neeraj Dutta Vs. State (Govt.
of  NCT  of  Delhi);  Criminal  Appeal  No.  1669/2009, has
referred the following question of law for determination by a
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larger bench: ­
“whether   in   the   absence   of   evidence   of
complainant/direct   or   primary   evidence   of
demand   of   illegal   gratification,   is   it   not
permissible   to   draw   inferential   deduction   of
culpability/guilt   of   a   public   servant   under
Section   7   and   Section   13(1)(d)   read   with
Section 13(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act,
1988 based on other evidence adduced by the
prosecution?”
It is reported that the said reference is pending and the
aforesaid question of law is yet to be determined and/or
considered by a larger bench. 
3.2 The issue arising in the present appeal is somewhat similar
and the decision of a larger bench may have a direct effect
on the decision of the present appeal(s). Therefore, we are of
the opinion that the decision in the present appeal(s) be
deferred till the question of law, which is referred to a larger
bench,   referred   to   hereinabove,   in   Criminal   Appeal   No.
1669/2009, is decided by the larger bench.        
4. Hence   these   appeal(s)   is/are   adjourned  sine   die  till   the
aforesaid question of law framed in Criminal Appeal No.
1669/2009 is decided by the larger bench. The Registry is
to notify the present criminal appeal(s) for final hearing after
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the decision on the question of law by the larger bench of
the reference is made hereinabove. 
…………………………………J.
(M. R. SHAH)
…………………………………J.
 (B. V. NAGARATHNA)
New Delhi, 
July, 11th 2022
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