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Shantilal Rameshwar Versus State of Rajasthan

1975 (10) TMI 110 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Crl.A. No. 152 of 1971 - Dated:- 10-10-1975 - P. N. Bhagwati And Ranjit Singh Sarkaria, JJ. JUDGMENT P. N. Bhagwati, J. 1. The appellant and one Ram Narain were tried by the Sessions Judge, Kotal for offences under Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 5(1) (d) read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947. The appellant was, at the material time, a clerk in the Land Record office entrusted with the duty of furnishing certified copies of entries in land records whil .....

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essions Judge and each of them was sentenced to suffer one year rigorous imprisonment and to pay a fine of ₹ 100/-, or in default of payment of fine to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a further period of one month. The appellant and Ram Narain both preferred an appeal in the High Court of Rajasthan against the order of conviction and sentence recorded against them, but the appeal substantially failed and the conviction of the appellant and Ram Narain was maintained with only a slight mod .....

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this Court. 2. Before we deal with the contentions raised on behalf of the appellant in support of the appeal, it would be convenient to state briefly the facts giving rise to the prosecution against the appellant. Dhanna Lal, who was an agriculturist in a village situate in Kotah District, was in need of a certified copy of entries relating to his land as he was required to produce them for the purpose of obtaining Takavi loan from a bank. He, therefore, came down to Kotah in the evening of 28 .....

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on to the appellant and after affixing a court fee stamp of ₹ 2/-, which represented the court fee for urgent copy, submitted it to the appellant. The appellant had his table in a room in which there were many other clerks doing work of the Land Record Office. The appellant, after taking the application from Dhanna Lal and asked him to sit outside whereupon Dhanna Lal and Ram Nath sat in the veranda outside the room. Sometime thereafter Ram Narain, who was a peon in the Office, came to Dha .....

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nna Lal found this amount rather high, whereupon Ram Narain once again went inside the room and coming out after a while, he told Dhanna Lal that clerk had stated that ₹ 10/r would be alright. Dhanna Lal expressed his inability to pay even this amount and the answer of Ram Narain was that in that event Dhanna Lal would have to wait for ten to fifteen days to get certified copy. This happened on 29th March, 1967. 3. On the next day, i.e., on 30th March, 1967, Dhanna Lal and Ram Nath once ag .....

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t to yield to the demand but to see him in the evening. It appears that Dhanna Lal and Ram Nath thereafter met Shyam Narain not in the evening of that day but in the morning of the next day, i.e. 31st March, 1967. Shyam Narain got an application written by Ram Nath and signed by Dhanna Lal and he asked them to go to the Deputy Superintendent, Anti Corruption Department and to present the application to him. The Deputy Superintendent thereupon arranged a raid by going through the usual procedure .....

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, Ram Nath and Pushp Kumar proceeded to the verandah on the first floor where the room of the copying clerks was situated. Ram Narain was sitting outside the room and on seeing Dhanna Lal he said that the certified copy was ready and asked him whether he has brought the money. Dhanna Lal said that he had got the money and that Ram Narain was sitting outside the room and on seeing Dhanna Lal he said that the certified copy was ready and asked him whether he has brought the money. Dhanna Lal said .....

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ster handed over the certified copy to him. Dhanna Lal, after corning out, gave the agreed signal, on which the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Head Constable Oma Shanker and others ran up to the verandah. The Deputy Superintendent asked Ram Narain to produce the two five-rupee currency notes which had been given by Dhanna Lal, whereupon Ram Narain produced the two currency notes stating that he had taken them on the instructions of the appellant. The Deputy Superintendent prepared a panchnama .....

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city of the prosecution case and cause grave doubt whether the appellant had anything at all to do with the demand of ₹ 10/- by way of bribe by Ram Narain. In the first place, it is significant to note that on both the days on which the demand for bribe was made by Ram Narain, namely, 29th and 30th March, 1967, there was no direct talk between the appellant on the one hand and Dhanna Lal or Ram Nath on the other. Neither Dhanna Lal nor Ram Nath met the appellant, nor did the appellant make .....

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. Ram Narain, according to the evidence of Dhanna Lal and Ram Nath, did go inside the room apparently for the purpose of discussing with the appelant the question of the amount of the bribe and appeard to convey to Dhanna Lal and Ram Nath that it was the appellant who was demanding the amount of the bribe, but it is quite possible that Ram Narain merely made a pretence and did not have any discussion with the appellant and the appellant did not have the ghost of an idea that Ram Narain was tryin .....

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anna Lal stated in his examination-in-chief that he gave the application for certified copy to the appellant, he went back upon this statement in his cross-examination and confessed that he did not know the name of the clerk to whom be had given the application. Dhanna Lal added that the clerk to whom the application was given by him stated that the certified copy would be issued in seven days. That was quite a natural statement on the part of the clerk to make since the copying fee paid by Dhan .....

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rd with the story of having paid copying fee for urgent certified copy in order to account for his going to the Land Record Office on the next day. If he had paid copying fee only for an ordinary certified copy. It is a difficult to understand how he could have expected to receive the certified copy on the next day and gone to the Land Record Office for that purpose. 5. Secondly, the evidence given by Dhanna Lal and Ram Nath in regard to the demand for bribe made by Ram Narain is in conflict wit .....

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en Ram Narain and Dhanna Lal on 31st March, 1967 when he went to take the certified copy. This cannot be regarded as a trivial or insignificant discrepancy having no relevance to the veracity of the prosecution case. It is a significant departure made by Dhanna La and Ram Nath in their evidence and we do not think that their evidence can be regarded as reliable to trustworthy. It leaves an indelible infirmity on the evidence led on behalf of the prosecution so far as the demand for bribe made by .....

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certified copy and then Dhannalal went inside the room with the appellant and the appellant gave him the certified copy after obtaining his signature in the register. Now, there can be no doubt that if this part of the prosecution story is accepted, the participation of the appellant in taking of the bribe would be completely established. But we do not think that the evidence led on behalf of the prosecution is sufficient to establish this part of the prosecution version. It is no doubt true th .....

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under the tamarind tree from where he could see what was happening in the first floor verandah, he did not depose to having seen the appellant coming out of the room, talking to Dhanna Lal and then going back inside the room with him. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, of course, attempted to explain this in his cross-examination by saying that Dhanna Lal, Ram Nath, Push Kumar and Ram Narain were not visible to him from the place where he was waiting under the tamarind tree, because he was be .....

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ome talk with Dhanna Lal and then he went back inside the office and thereafter Dhanna Lal gave two five-rupee currency notes to Ram Narain. But it is difficult to appreciate how Head Constable Uma Shanker could see this incident when the Deputy Superintendent of Police could not. The only explanation which the Deputy Superintendent of Police could offer for this difference in their versions was that he was standing behind the tamarind tree while Head Constable Uma Shanker was in the open compou .....

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