1. The petitioner, Lallii-bhai Pranubhai, was Chitnis in the office of the Collector of Panch Mahals. He has been convicted by Mr. Patwardhan, Magistrate, First Class, of that District, of the offence under Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code, of receiving a bribe of Rs. 800 from two Borahs, Shaik Adam and Malvi, as a motive or reward for doing an official act, and has been sentenced to six months' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 300, in default, to Suffer three months' rigorous imprisonment:, The conviction and sentence have been confirmed in appeal by the Sessions Judge of Broach and Panch Mahals.
2. The petitioner now applies to us to quash the conviction and sentence under our revisoinal jurisdiction upon the ground that these rest upon the uncorroborated testimony of accomplices, viz., the givers of the bribe. Both the Courts below have discussed the evidence at great length and have come to the conclusion that the case against the petitioner is proved by the accomplice testimony, corroborated in material particulars by independent evidence. It cannot be said that the Courts below have acted solely upon the evidence of the accomplices. And even if they had, the conviction would not have been illegal (section 133 of the Indian Evidence Act). It is not a rule of law but one of mere practice and prudence that an accomplice is unworthy of credit unlse he is corroborated in material particulars (illustration (b) to Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act); and a conviction will not be disturbed by this Court under its re-visional jurisdiction on the mere ground that the said rule of practice has not been adhered to by the Court which has convicted, unless there are exceptional circumstances calling for the exercise of that jurisdictioa in the interests of justice. Queen-Empress v. Sheikh Saheb Badrudin 8 B. 197. And this must be so, especially where, as in the present case, both the trial Magistrate and the Sessions Judge, sitting as an appellate Court, have, each after a most careful and patient hearing and critical scrutiny of the evidence, arrived at the same conclusion. In the present case there are, in my opinion, no exceptional circumstances justifying our interference under our re visional jurisdiction with the concurrent findings on the evidence of the two lower Courts.
3. The case, however, does not rest solely upon the evidence of the two accomplice witnesses, Shaikh Adam and Malvi. It is, as the judgments of the tribunals below show, corroborated in material particulars by the evidence of independent circumstances, connecting, as required by the rule of practice which we have referred above, the petitioner with the act of receiving the bribe. The two witnesses state that, as an inducement for showing them favour by influencing the Collector and getting orders from the latter, permitting them to cut the trees in a forest belonging to a minor, whose guardian, appointed by the Court, the Collector was, they went to Kalol where the Chitnis was camping, and there handed over the sum of Rs. 300 to the' Juptidar Chunilal outside the house where the petitioner lived; that the Juptidar took away the money inside and returned and asked them to go as the Chitnis (petitioner) was about to leave for office and could not be seen just then. The witnesses further state that later on, the same day, they met the petitioner and he in the course of conversation used words plainly implying that he would do their work as they had favoured him. Now, it is in evidence that though the application made by the two witnesses to the Collector on the 7th of February for permission to cut the trees was allowed by the Collector on that date subject to the only condition, namely, provided there was a contract, no order was issued till the 27th of February, the date on which the accomplices depose the bribe was paid; and the petitioner, who was consulted by the Collector before the latter allowed the application, did not remind the latter of previous orders on the subject, prohibiting the cutting. It is also found proved that the petitioner tampered with the date of a document in the Collector's office, bearing on the subject of the two witnesses' application, and further that he tampered with the entries in the account books of the firm of Sulemanji Rukhmaji, of which one of the accomplices namely Malvi, was Munim. This last fact is held proved by the Courts below on the evidence of Abdul Rahim, an independent witness. Mr. Khare, the learned pleader for the petitioner, has indeed striven hard in his skilful argument to pursuade us to hold that Abdul Rahim is also an accomplice, because he, on his own showing, allowed the petitioner to tamper with his books for the purpose of concealing the crime committed by the former. To yield to this argument would be to stretch the meaning of the term accomplice beyond its accepted signification in law. Abdul Rahim had nothing to do with the giving of the bribe; and the receiving of it is the offence of which the petitioner had been convicted.
4. These facts, then, proved by evidence other than that of the accomplices, are sufficient to connect the petitioner with the bribe. His conduct in relation to the matter in which the accomplices were interested and which was pending before the Collector has been not only suspicious but plainly dishonest; and is sufficient corroboration to fix the guilt on him.
5. Discharging the rule, the conviction and sentence must be confirmed. The bail allowed to the petitioner pending the disposal of this rule must be cancelled and he must go to jail to suffer the unserved period of imprisonment.