PUSHPENDRA KUMAR SINHA VS STATE OF JHARKHAND

PUSHPENDRA KUMAR SINHA VS STATE OF JHARKHAND


Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1333  OF 2022
[ARISING OUT OF SLP (CRL.) NO.3440 OF 2021]
PUSHPENDRA KUMAR SINHA     …..APPELLANT
VERSUS
STATE OF JHARKHAND      ..…RESPONDENT
J U D G M E N T
J.K. Maheshwari, J.
Leave granted. 
2. The   Appellant   has   assailed   the   final   judgment   dated
06.01.2020 passed by High Court of Jharkhand at Ranchi in
Criminal Revision No. 1057 of 2018, by which the order dated
04.07.2018  passed   by  learned  Special   Judge,  Anti­Corruption
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Bureau   dismissing   the   application   for   discharge   filed   by   the
Appellant under Section 239 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
(for short “Cr.P.C.”) in connection with Special Case No. 02 of
2011 has been affirmed. The criminal case was registered against
the   Appellant   and   others   for   commission   of   offences   under
Sections 109, 409, 420, 467, 471, 477A and 120B of Indian
Penal Code (for short “IPC”) and Section 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d) read
with 13(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (for short “PC
Act”).
3. The facts briefly put are that the Appellant was working as
an Executive Engineer (Electrical) (“EE”) in the Accelerated Power
Development   Reforms   Program   (“APDRP”)   Wing   of   Jharkhand
State Electricity Board (in short “JSEB”) from 07.12.2004. During
his   tenure   as   EE,   one   Ramjee   Power   Construction   Limited
(hereinafter “RPCL”)   was   awarded   a   contract   of   work   under
APDRP vide work order dated 27.01.2005. On account of delay in
execution of the work and to resolve the said issue, the then
Chairman   JSEB,   Mr.   Shivendu,   convened   a   meeting   on
21.12.2006, wherein he orally instructed Mr. R.P. Agarwal, the
then Chief Engineer (“CE”), to place the agenda for next board
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meeting for termination of the contract of M/s RPCL. Prior to
convening   of   the   next   Board   meeting,   Mr.   V.N.   Pandey   was
appointed as the new Chairman, JSEB on 04.01.2007. The new
Chairman called for a meeting on 06.02.2007/07.02.2007 for the
agenda   to   review   the   progress   of   RPCL’s   work.   In   the   said
meeting, other officers of JSEB including Mr. R.P. Agarwal, CE,
had participated. In the meeting, it was mutually agreed by JSEB
and   RPCL   that   full   effort   to   complete   the   work   within   the
extended   time,   i.e.   July,   2007   shall   be   made   by   RPCL.   In
furtherance of the decision taken in the aforesaid meeting, Mr.
R.P.   Agarwal,   CE,   made   various   correspondences   reminding
RPCL to complete the pending work. On retirement of Mr. R.P.
Agarwal,   Mr.   S.C.   Shrivastava   Superintending   Engineer
(Electrical) was made in charge in place of Mr. R.P. Agarwal.
Meanwhile, RPCL sent letters dated 16.05.2007, 18.05.2007 and
08.06.2007 requesting him for further extension of time. In the
said correspondences, it was said that RPCL had already invoked
the arbitration clause on 22.12.2006, in terms of the contract
and requested JSEB for appointment of an arbitrator. The said
letters were handed over to the Appellant, on which under the
instructions, the Appellant prepared a note dated 08.06.2007
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and   placed   it   before   the   Chairman   on   the   issue   relating   to
appointment of an arbitrator and waiver of penalty, as advised by
learned   Advocate   General   (“AG”)   of   State   of   Jharkhand   in
similarly placed transmission lines projects. 
4. Thereafter,   vide   JSEB   resolution   dated   28.06.2007,   a
committee   consisting   of   one   Mr.   GNS   Munda   (Member,
Technical), Mr. A. Banerjee (Finance) and Mr. A.K. Mishra (Law
Officer) was constituted, which on 09.08.2007 suggested three
names for appointment of an Arbitrator. Out of the three names
as   suggested,   Mr.   Ramayan   Pandey   was   appointed   as   the
arbitrator by consent. Arbitration proceedings commenced and
an   interim   award   dated   25.11.2007   was   passed   in   favour   of
RPCL.   Thereafter,   an   agenda   accompanied   with   the   aforesaid
award was put before Chairman, Mr. B.M. Verma prior to asking
for   an   opinion   from   the   AG,   State   of   Jharkhand,   regarding
enforceability of the award. Later, as per the opinion of the AG,
JSEB vide Board Resolution dated 05.04.2008 and 07.04.2008,
decided to implement the interim award. It is worthwhile to state
that,   Mr.   GNS   Munda   (Member,   Technical)   as   well   as   Smt.
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Rajbala Verma (then Finance Secretary, State of Jharkhand) were
part of this Board meeting. 
5. It is pertinent to mention that, while giving effect to the
award,   JSEB   was   facing   shortage   of   funds.   However,   JSEB
decided to make internal enquiry into handling the work contract
given to RPCL. On the basis of the said enquiry, allegations of
malpractice and financial irregularity were levelled against the
Appellant and some others. The Secretary, JSEB vide letter dated
30.07.2010, made a request to the Director General of Vigilance
Bureau (“DGP”) to lodge an FIR against the Appellant and others
for offences punishable under Sections 109, 409, 420, 467, 471,
477A and 120B of IPC and Section 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d) read with
13(2) of PC Act. Additionally, another letter dated 03.09.2010,
was issued by Smt. Rajbala Verma (then Vigilance Commissioner)
to   the   DGP,   recommending   the   same   action   against   the
Appellant. As already noted above, Smt. Rajbala Verma was also
a part of the Board meeting (being the then Finance Secretary,
State of Jharkhand) that had approved the implementation of the
arbitral   award.   In   the   said   facts,   FIR   dated   20.01.2011   was
lodged   against   the   Appellant   and   other   officers   of   the   JSEB.
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Investigation was carried out, chargesheet dated 08.01.2016 was
filed   and   cognizance   was   taken   by   the   Court   dealing   with
vigilance   cases   vide   order   dated   11.01.2016.   Thereafter,   the
Appellant moved a discharge petition under Section 239 of the
Cr.P.C.,   which   came   to   be   dismissed   by   the   learned   Special
Judge  vide  order  dated   04.07.2018.  The   Court   observed  that
sufficient material exists to make out a prima­facie case against
the Appellant for framing of charges. 
6. Aggrieved by the same, the Appellant preferred a criminal
revision   assailing   the   aforesaid   order.   The   High   Court   vide
impugned order dismissed the revision and affirmed the order
passed   by   the   learned   Special   Judge.   The   High   Court   was
prima­facie  influenced by the fact that the previous chairman,
JSEB, Mr. Shivendu had orally instructed to put up the agenda
for termination of the contract of RPCL. On demitting the office
by  the  said Chairman,  the  Appellant   had  put  the  file  noting
before   the   subsequent   Chairman   Mr.   V.N.   Pandey,   regarding
referral of the matter for arbitration without mentioning about
the instructions given by the previous Chairman, JSEB. The High
Court   found   fault   in   the   action   of   the   Appellant   of   having
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proposed an agenda regarding wrongful implementation of the
award which was challenged belatedly. Thus, having found a
prima­facie case against the Appellant, the High Court dismissed
the revision petition.
7. Learned counsel for the Appellant, Mr. Prashant Bhushan
strenuously urged as under: 
(i) the   Appellant   was   not   having   decision­making   power   or
financial authority to carry out the contract and the award
passed. The nature of duty assigned to the Appellant was
confined to follow instructions of his superiors and by no
stretch of imagination he can be said to have the power to
refer the matter for arbitration in a case where the dispute
is arising out of a work contract between JSEB and RPCL; 
(ii) there is no concealment of the instruction of the previous
Chairman   pertaining   to   termination   of   the   contract   as
substantiated by noting dated 08.06.2007 on page no. 48 of
the APDRP file which was the next page of noting of the CE
on page no. 47, under instructions from the Chairman; 
(iii) the prosecution has concealed that the verbal instruction
for termination of contract given by the previous Chairman
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in   the   meeting   dated   21.12.2006,   had   been   overturned
within two months by the new Chairman, Mr. V.N. Pandey
in   the   JSEB   tripartite   meeting   held   on   06.02.2007   and
07.02.2007, in which the Appellant was not a member;
(iv) the questionable noting dated 08.06.2007 of the Appellant
was   based   on   facts   and   documents   forming   part   of   the
APDRP file endorsed to him by his controlling officer; 
(v) the Appellant is being prosecuted on a wrong premise from
the stage of granting time to complete the work, reference
made to arbitration and till further directions for making the
payment  for the  interim  award  passed against  JSEB, in
favour of the RPCL. He was not a part of the decisionmaking process or of taking further steps to implement the
said   award.   Thus,   culpability   as   alleged   against   the
Appellant, on the pretext of not putting up the agenda for
cancellation of the contract amounts to abuse of the power
and prima­facie, no case to prosecute him is made out;
(vi) there is no allegation of illegal gratification, undue benefit or
disproportionate   assets   qua   the   Appellant   in   the   FIR   or
charge­sheet which is also backed by the income tax records
of the Appellant; 
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(vii) prosecution has failed to establish any nexus between the
Appellant and RPCL to whom the benefit is alleged to have
been made; 
(viii) while   granting   bail   to   the   Appellant   on   merits,   it   was
categorically observed by the High Court that the Appellant
had   put   up   the   matter   before   higher   authorities   for
instructions   before   proceeding   further   and   did   not   act
unilaterally;
(ix) except for the Director of Finance, none of the decisionmaking authorities namely, members of Central Purchase
Committee and the Board of JSEB have been made accused
in this case;              
8. Per contra, learned counsel for the Respondent­State has
argued in support of the concurrent findings of both the Courts
and contended that the entire factual gamut of the instant appeal
stems   around   the   pleadings   of   defence   including   reliance   on
documents which cannot be permitted to be raised at this stage.
It is further urged that at the stage of framing of charge, the
scope of interference is limited, and the Court is not required to
see as to whether there are sufficient grounds for conviction. The
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Court has to only see the material collected during investigation
and on consideration of the same, a prima facie case is made out
or not. 
9. After having heard learned counsel for the parties and on
perusal of the record, which reveals that after the board meeting
dated 21.12.2006, the then Chairman Mr. Shivendu had orally
instructed the then CE, Mr. R.P. Agarwal to place the agenda for
termination of the contract of RPCL. As per the said instructions,
the agenda was proposed and placed on 27.12.2006 by Mr. R.P.
Agarwal. On the said proposed agenda, Member Technical put up
a note on 19.01.2007, recording “please discuss”. Thereafter, the
meeting of the JSEB was held on 06.02.2007 and 07.02.2007,
which was presided over by the new Chairman Mr. V.N. Pandey
and Mr. R.P. Agarwal, CE, was a member of the said meeting.
Either at the stage of the proposed agenda or in the meeting of
the JESB held on 06.02.2007 and 07.02.2007, the Appellant had
not participated in the decision­making process. The minutes of
the aforesaid meeting is relevant and reproduced as under: 
“MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 06.02.2007 &
07.02.2007 AT JSEB HQR.
The following officer, consultant & contractors were present in
the meeting:­
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1.  Shri V.N. Pandey Chairman
2. Shri R.P. Agarwal Chief Engineer (APDRP)
3.  Shri P. Ranjan                               General Manager­cum­      
        Chief Engineer/Jamshedpur
    4. Shri Niranjan Rai        Director (Finance)
5. Shri Madhup Kumar       Director (RE/Plan)
6. Shri P. Raghu       RITES Ltd.
7. Shri Y.P. Singh           do
8. Shri A.K. Singh RPCL
9. Shri T.K. Bhattacharya    do
The issue of M/s RPCL was discussed in length. Work of
Jamshedpur town under APDRP has been awarded to M/s RPCL
vide W.O. Nos. 28 & 29 dated 27.01.2005. The progress was
reviewed   and   found   that   progress   is   very­very   slow.   After
discussion, JSEB & M/s RPCL mutually agreed on the following
points:­
1. M/s RPCL will submit photo copy of all orders placed by them
for   procurement   of   materials   for   the   APDRP   work   of
Jamshedpur to Chief Engineer/APDRP & m/s RITES Ltd., the
consultant.
2. JSEB will help Ms RPCL for procurement of materials.
3. JSEB will be make payment immediately (probably within a
week) after submission of bills by M/s RPCL.
4. Approval of additional B.O.Q. and items shall be given by
JSEB immediately.
5. M/s RPCL will submit fresh inspection call of materials to
Electrical   Superintending   Engineer­cum­CEO/General
Manager­cum­Chief   Engineer,   Jamshedpur   for   getting
inspecting officer deputed.
6. M/s RPCL will contract Chief Engineer (APDRP) if here is any
delay in issuing Road permits by Chief Engineer (S&P).
7. M/s RPCL agreed that they will apply their full efforts to
complete   the   project   so   that   it   may   be   completed   within
extended completion period i.e. July’ 07 instead of going for
Arbitration/Court of Law.
8. JSEB will review the matter of L.D. clause after completion of
the project work.
Sd/­
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(R.P. Agrawal)
Chief Engineer (APDRP)
Memo No.  ­­­­­       
Dated­­­­­­­­
Copy forwarded to all concerned officers/M/s RITES Ltd./ M/s 
RPCL for information and necessary action.
Fax – 2543986”
10. The   perusal   of   the   aforesaid   minutes   and   the   proposed
agenda   dated   27.12.2006   prepared   by   Mr.   R.P.   Agarwal,   CE,
reveals that the oral recommendation of the then Chairman, Mr.
Shivendu, was drawn in the proposed agenda but it was not
acted upon as per the noting dated 19.01.2007 made by the
Member Technical who made an endorsement  “Please discuss”.
Thereafter, what was the agenda that was put forth in the next
JSEB   meeting,   is   not   on   record.   The   minutes   of   the   Board
meeting   reflect   that   Mr.   R.P.   Agarwal   who   had   prepared   the
agenda dated 27.12.2006, was a part of the said meeting. The
decisions were taken in the said meeting with the mutual consent
of the parties. The Appellant was not a part of the decisionmaking process. In the said meeting as per clause (7), it was
decided that  “M/s RPCL agreed that they will apply their full
efforts to complete the project so that it may be completed within
extended   completion  period, i.e.,  July’  07,  instead   of  going  for
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Arbitration/Court of Law.”  Correspondences further reflect that
prior to demitting the office, Mr. R.P. Agarwal, CE, wrote three
letters, of which two were dated 05.04.2007 and one was dated
25.04.2007, requesting RPCL for implementation of the contract
as per the decision of JSEB. The said correspondence also does
not   show   any   involvement   of   the   Appellant.   As   alleged,   the
agenda dated 08.06.2007 was prepared by the Appellant, wherein
the following instructions were required to be obtained:
“…….Hence instruction may be obtained on:
(i) Appointment of an arbitrator in light of the advice of the
AG Jharkhand.
(ii) Waiver   of   penalty   in   light   of   the   advice   of   the   AG,
Jharkhand, and
(iii) Putting the agenda for further time extension incorporating
the condition of approval of revised BQO which could not
be given till date.”
11. On perusal of the JSEB Board meeting dated 06.02.2007
and 07.02.2007, it is clear that extension was granted up to July
2007 instead of going in for arbitration or approaching the Court
of Law. The JSEB and its members were not inclined to cancel
the  contract and the  decision  was  taken  by mutual consent.
Therefore, the instructions sought by the Appellant as per the
agenda dated 08.06.2007, were either based on the advice of the
learned   AG   of   Jharkhand   or   in   furtherance   of   the   previous
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decision of the Board. Later, it was directed that JSEB, Member
Technical may constitute a committee consisting of officers from
‘Technical’, ‘Finance’ and ‘Law’ to suggest the names to appoint
an   Arbitrator,   after   approval   of   the   Chairman.   The   Member
Technical proceeded in the matter of appointment of Arbitrator
and three names were proposed on 09.08.2007, out of which, Mr.
Ramayan   Pandey,  Ex­Law  Secretary,  State   of  Jharkhand  was
appointed   as   an   arbitrator.   The   Arbitrator   passed   an   interim
award on 25.11.2007, in favour of RPCL. 
12. In view of the discussion made hereinabove, it is apparent
that at the time of taking a decision by the JSEB on 06.02.2007
and 07.02.2007, the Appellant was neither involved nor was part
in the proposal or the decision­making process. He had prepared
the   proposed   agenda   for   instructions   on   08.06.2007,   in
furtherance of clause (7) of the aforesaid Board meeting, and
based on the advice of the learned AG, State of Jharkhand in the
matter of appointment of an Arbitrator and waiver of penalty, as
suggested. Even after the proposed agenda for termination of the
contract dated 27.12.2006, prepared by the then CE Mr. R.P.
Agarwal, it was not acted upon because Member Technical on
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19.01.2007, had put up a note “Please discuss”. Later, the Board
took a decision on 06.02.2007 and 07.02.2007. Thus, it is clear
that the question of termination of contract in the opinion of the
Board was dropped and the recourse to complete the work within
the   extended   time   was   agreed   in   place   of   going   in   for
arbitration/Court of Law. The same has also been observed by
the High Court in its order dated 02.05.2016, while granting bail
to the Appellant on merit. In the said facts, merely preparing a
subsequent agenda dated 08.06.2007, seeking instructions for
appointment   of   an   Arbitrator   would   not   bring   the   Appellant
within the purview of culpability for commission of the alleged
offences. This Court has reason to believe that the decisions, if
any, taken by the JSEB and other higher officials were after
perusal of the complete noting in the file. After implementation of
the   said   decision,   arbitral   proceedings   were   commenced   and
award   dated   25.11.2007   was   passed.   Thereafter,   the   agenda
regarding implementation of the award was put up before the
Chairman, Mr. B.M. Verma who vide noting dated 27.01.2008,
made   a   request   to   the   AG   to   give   legal   opinion   about   the
maintainability and enforceability issues relating to the interim
award. The learned AG responded by letter dated 31.01.2008,
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opining that the award did not suffer from any illegality and
should   be   implemented.   Accordingly,   the   Board   of   JSEB
approved   the   interim   arbitral   award   vide   resolution   dated
05.04.2008 and 07.04.2008. In the said meeting, Smt. Rajbala
Verma (then Finance Secretary to the State of Jharkhand) also
participated and duly approved the resolution.
13. The   perusal   of   material   indicates   that   because   it   was
difficult for the JSEB to implement the award due to financial
difficulty,   a   roving   and   fishing   enquiry   was   conducted,   in
consequence   of   which,   Secretary,   JSEB   vide   letter   dated
30.07.2010   and   Smt.   Rajbala   Verma   (then   Vigilance
Commissioner) vide letter dated 03.09.2010, requested the DGP,
Vigilance Bureau to register an FIR against the Appellant. We fail
to understand as to why the same person, who had approved the
implementation of award as a member of the Board, had later as
Vigilance Commissioner, recommended initiation of prosecution
against the Appellant, who had merely prepared the agenda for
appointment of an arbitrator and had nothing to do with the
approval of the award and payment of money. In view of the
aforesaid, if at all any culpability had to be assigned, it should
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have been assigned after examining the role of senior authorities
who were involved in the decision­making process. Astonishingly,
most   of   the   senior   officials,   who   approved   various   decisions
regarding   extension   of   time,   appointment   of   arbitrator   and
implementation of arbitration award and consequent payment to
RPCL have not been arrayed as accused. In our considered view,
prima­facie  there   is   nothing   which   affixes   culpability   or
constitutes commission of offence including mens­rea on the part
of the Appellant. It seems that an attempt has been made to
implicate the Appellant for the decisions in which prima­facie, he
did not have any role to play, nor do his acts establish any
culpability regarding the alleged offences.
14. If at all there were issues with respect to the maintainability
of the award due to the provisions of the contract, particularly as
per the contended negative covenant, the same should have been
highlighted by the learned AG, especially when his opinion was
expressly sought. We find it difficult to accept that the opinion of
the learned AG was prejudiced merely because he was not made
aware of the negative covenant pertaining to price variation by an
engineer of the JSEB who has limited exposure in the domain of
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law. We have no hesitation in stating that AG being the highest
law officer of a State, is competent to advise the State on legal
matters after due diligence, taking into consideration all relevant
factors and material. Therefore, the Appellant cannot be said to
influence or impact the opinion of the learned AG which had
resulted in approval of JSEB to implement the award. Hence, in
our considered view, it cannot be inferred that the Appellant led
the AG and the JSEB to implement the award with fraudulent or
dishonest intention to cause loss to JSEB and benefit to RPCL. 
15. On a perusal of the FIR, we find that it is alleged against
Umesh   Kumar,   Financial   Controller   –   III   and   the   present
Appellant,   CE   (APDRP),   that   they   made   payment   of
Rs.4,89,24,788/­ against the gross value of Rs. 7,89,84,826/­, as
per   the   arbitral   award   without   approval   of   the   competent
authority. Mr. Umesh Kumar had filed quashment petition being
‘Cr.   M.P.   No.   2136/2015’   before   the   High  Court   wherein   the
Court   on   the   allegation   of   payment   without   approval   of   the
competent   authority   (as   alleged   against   Appellant   also)   has
observed as under:
“1. Having heard learned counsel for the parties and on perusal
of the records, I do find that nothing is there against the
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petitioner   with   respect   to   appointment   of   M/s   RPCL   nor
anything   is   there   in   the   matter   of   appointment   of   an
Arbitrator. Only when award was given by the Arbitrator, the
petitioner did make payment of the amount which had been
awarded not from the working fund but from the loan fund.
This   has   been   taken   by   the   Vigilance   to   be   illegal   as
according to it the payment should not have been made from
the existing loan amount, as the loan had never been taken
for the purpose of making payment of the amount awarded
by   the   Arbitrator.   This   accusation   cannot   be   the   subject
matter of the prosecution in absence of anything being placed
that there was restriction on the part of the authority of the
Board to make payment of the amount covered under the
award passed against the Board from the loan account. It is
opinion   of   the   Vigilance   not   based   on   any   circular   or
guideline  that the payment should have  been made after
having a fresh loan from the Power Finance Corporation. It
be stated that the petitioner is to act according to his own
wisdom and not as per the wishes of others and if nothing is
there showing any culpability in the matter of payment of the
amount, the petitioner cannot be said to have committed any
wrong.
2. Coming   further,   it   be   stated   that   the   petitioner   passed
release   order   with   respect   to   payment   of   a   sum   of   Rs.
4,89,24,788/­ but that release order was passed without
having any approval of the Chairman though such post facto
approval according to the petitioner has been granted by the
Chairman   not   on   the   file   but   on   separate   sheet   which
according to the Vigilance is bad but even if this irregularity
is there in the matter of payment of the said amount, his
culpability can only be found when something is more there
showing his connivance or conspiracy with the  contractor
though the Vigilance has tried to establish that the file moved
so fast but that never indicates about the culpability of the
petitioner, as there may be conspiracy of other officials with
the contractor on account of which the file moved so fast.
Furthermore, it has never been the case of the vigilance that
the aforesaid payments were made without the materials
being supplied or short supplied.
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3. Further, it be stated that the ingredients of the offence of
criminal conspiracy are that there should be an agreement
between the persons who are alleged to conspire and the
said agreement should be for doing of an illegal act or for
doing, by illegal means, an act which by itself may not be
illegal. In other words, the essence of criminal conspiracy is
an agreement to do an illegal act and such an agreement can
be   proved   either   by   direct   evidence   or   by   circumstantial
evidence or by both and it is a matter of common experience
that direct evidence to prove conspiracy is rarely available.
Accordingly, the circumstances proved before and after the
occurrence   have   to   be   considered   to   decide   about   the
complicity of the accused. Even, if some acts are proved to
have been committed, it must be clear that they were so
committed in pursuance of an agreement made between the
accused persons who were parties to the alleged conspiracy.
Inferences   from   such   proved   circumstances   regarding   the
guilt   may   be   drawn   only   when   such   circumstances   are
incapable   of   any   other   reasonable   explanation.   In   other
words, an offence of conspiracy cannot be deemed to have
been   established   on   mere   suspicion   and   surmises   or
inference which are not supported by cogent and acceptable
evidence. This proposition of law has been laid down by the
Hon’ble   Supreme   Court   in   a   case   of   Central   Bureau   of
Investigation,   Hyderabad   Vs.   K.  Narayana   Rao   {(2012)   9
SCC 512}. Here in the instant case, nothing appears to be
there for showing connivance or conspiracy except aforesaid
two facts which have been dealt with hereinabove regarding
payment of the amount to the contractor.”
16. The High Court quashed the criminal proceedings against
Umesh Kumar with the above said observations. Assailing the
same, Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 4062 of 2017, was
filed by the State of Jharkhand, which was dismissed by this
Court vide order dated 05.02.2020, after condoning the delay. As
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per the FIR allegations, it is alleged that Umesh Kumar and the
present Appellant had made the payment of Rs.4,89,24,788/­
against the gross value of Rs.7,89,84,826/­ without approval of
the competent authority. In this regard, the allegation against the
Appellant is that he suggested that part payment of the arbitral
award   may   be   made   to   RPCL   from   the   working   fund,   on
refundable basis since there was no fund available in the Power
Finance   Corporation   Account.   It   is   not   the   case   of   the
prosecution that the Appellant had made payment to the agency.
However, it can be inferred that the Appellant has suggested the
possible mode of payment in furtherance of the Board’s office
order no. 243 dated 16.03.2006, after passing of the arbitral
award which was required to be paid alongwith interest, but to
satisfy the award by noting, the said suggestion was made. In our
view, this itself is not sufficient to implicate the Appellant. In
addition   thereto,   it   is   most   pertinent   that   even   on   such   a
suggestion, the payments were not made from the working fund,
rather, part payment of the award was made from the loan taken
from   Power   Finance   Corporation   on   the   recommendation   of
Umesh Kumar, against whom criminal proceedings have been
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quashed as indicated hereinabove and the said order has not
been interfered with by this Court. 
17. It   is   also   worthwhile   to   mention   that   during   the
investigation,   no   incriminating   material   or   money   was   seized
from the house of the Appellant. Further, it is not a case where
allegations of illegal gratification or disproportionate assets have
been successfully found by prosecution against the Appellant. On
the contrary, when the Income Tax Department had assessed the
block   income   tax   return   for   seven   years,   the   Department
recorded   a   refund   Rs.8843   to   the   Appellant   after   detailed
scrutiny of the records. 
18. It is a well settled law that at the time of framing of the
charges, the probative value of the material on record cannot be
gone into but before framing of charge the Court must apply it’s
judicial mind on the material placed on record and must be
satisfied   that   the   commission   of   offence   by   the   accused   was
possible. Indeed, the Court has limited scope of enquiry and has
to see whether any prima­facie case against the accused is made
out or not. At the same time, the Court is also not expected to
mirror   the   prosecution   story,   but   to   consider   the   broad
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probabilities   of   the   case,   weight   of   prima­facie   evidence,
documents produced and any basic infirmities etc. In this regard
the judgment of “Union of India Vs. Prafulla Kumar Samal,
(1979) 3 SCC 4” can be profitably referred for ready reference.
Having due regard to the documents placed before us and in the
light of the submissions and discussion made above, we are of
the   considered   view   that   sufficient   grounds   casting   a   grave
suspicion on the Appellant, do not exist. It is observed that the
ingredients of alleged offences cannot be prima­facie established
against the Appellant as neither had he been entrusted with
funds of JSEB nor he had fraudulently or dishonestly deceived
senior officials of the JSEB to cause any benefit to RPCL or any
wrongful loss to JSEB and no evidence of illegal gratification or
disproportionate assets has been found against the Appellant.  
19. In view of the foregoing discussion, we are of the considered
opinion that the High Court erred in refusing to exercise the
revisional powers vested in it under Sections 397 and 401 of the
Cr.P.C. and  dismissing the  criminal revision  preferred by the
Appellant.   In   the   facts   and   circumstances   of   the   case   as
discussed, the inescapable conclusion that can be drawn in this
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case that ingredients of the alleged offences are not prima­facie
made out against the Appellant. Therefore, we deem it fit to allow
the   instant   appeal   and   set­aside   the   impugned   order.
Consequently,   the   Appellant   is   discharged   in   the   criminal
proceedings arising out of Special Case No.02 of 2011.
……………………..CJI.
[N.V. Ramana]
………………………..J.
[J.K. Maheshwari]
………………………..J.
[Hima Kohli]
New Delhi;
August 24, 2022
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