1. The petnr. who was employed as a clerk in the office of the Dy. Commr. at Delhi, has been convicted Under Section 161, I. P.C. read with Section 5(ii) Prevention of Corruption Act & been sentenced to three months' R. I. The learned Addl. Ses. J. upheld the conviction but reduced the sentence to a fine of Rs. 300 as the petnr. was bound to lose his service as well as his pension as a result of the conviction. The petnr. is dissatisfied with the order of the Cts. below & has come to this Ct. in revn.
2. The facts of the case are fairly simple. One Kishan Lal, who is a refugee from the West Punjab, was the holder of two licenses, namely, a license to practise as a deed-writer & a license to sell entertainment stamps. On 7-6-1949 he received a letter from the office of the Collector, Delhi, in which he was asked to produce his deed Registers in the office of the Collector, The complainant took his registers to the petnr. as the latter was dealing with issue of licenses. The petnr. calculated the income of the complainant for the preceding five or six months & directed him to produce the registers concerning the sale of entertainment stamps. The petnr. told him that he could not retain both the licenses at the same time & would have to give up either the license to practise as a deed-writer or the license for the sale of entertainment stamps. The complainant pleaded that he had lost every thing in Pakistan & should be allowed to retain both the licenses with him, but the petnr. told him that that was impossible unless he made it worth the while of the petnr. by paying a sum of Rs. 100 to him. The complainant was reluctant to comply with this illegal demand. Two or three days later the complainant paid another visit to the office of the Dy. Comr. with the object of showing the register concerning the sales of entertainment stamps. The petnr. asked him to write down all the accounts. The complainant again begged of him to let him retain both the licenses & the petnr. repeated his proposal. Shortly afterwards the complainant received a letter from the office of the Dy. Comr. asking him to inform the Collector within a period of one week from the date of the receipt of the letter as to which of the two licensees he wanted to retain. The complainant was worried at the prospect of having to surrender one of his licenses & thereby losing some of his income & he accordingly paid yet another visit to the office of the Dy. Comr. He repeated his request to the petnr. but the petnr. expressed his inability to give any help in the matter unless his demand for the payment of Rs. 100 was complied with. The complainant was unable or unwilling to make the payment & returned home. Thereafter every time that the complainant went to purchase stamps the petnr. made it quite clear that it would be to the advantage of the complainant to part with some cash. One day the complainant agreed in desperation to pay a sum of Rs. 100 to the petnr. but on reconsideration he decided to bring the offender to book.
3. On the following day, he went to the house of L. Uttam Singh Honorary Mag. & told him the whole story. The Honorary Mag. advised the complainant to write out an appln. setting out the circumstances in which the demand was made. The complainant complied with the suggestion. On the following day the Honorary Mag. took the complainant to the Ct. of Mr. Bhanot a Mag. of the 1st class, so that a trap should be set for the apprehension of the petnr. The complainant; produced a hundred rupee currency note. Mr. Bhanot took down its number & returned it to the complainant with the direction that the latter should go & present the note to the petnr. & that after that was done to signal the fact to Mr. Bhanot by touching his head with his hand. On 15-11-1949 the complainant proceeded to the room of the petnr. followed by Mr. Bhanob, L. Uttam Singh & one Dewan Ram Chand a prosecuting Sub-Inspector of Delhi. L. Uttam Singh went & stood near the office of the Supt. of the Dy. Comr. Mr. Bhanot went & stood near the Nazarat office & the Prosecuting Sub-Inspector stationed himself under a tree from which he could watch the movement of the complainant.
4. The complainant entered the room of the petnr. & he found the latter sitting on a chair with a table in front of him. The petnr. enquired if he had brougnt the money with him & the complainant accordingly passed the currency note on to the petnr. The complainant gave the prearranged signal on seeing which Mr. Bhanot & the other members of the raiding party rushed into the room. The petnr. was completely dumb founded. Mr. Bhanot ordered him to stand up & to produce the currency note which had been given to him by the complainant but the petnr. made no answer. He merely stood up & raised his arms indicating thereby that he had no objection to being searched. The complainant stated that the currency note was in one of the drawers of the table, Mr. Bhanot looked for the note but was unable to find it. On a further search he found the currency note lying under the table on the floor. This note was taken into possession & the matter was reported to the police. As a result of the investigation which followed the petnr. was prosecuted upon a charge of having accepted an illegal gratification
5. The petnr. denied having demanded or received a sum of Rs. 100 from the complainant, but he produced no evidence in support of this denial.
6. The prosecution story on the other hand has been abundantly corroborated by the testimony of the complainant, L. Uttam Singh, Mr. Bhanot & Dewan Ram Chand. Learned counsel for the petnr. does not challenge the credibility of Mr. Bhanot or the other members of the raiding party, but he contends that the evidence of the complainant to the effect that he offered & that the petnr. received a sum of Rs. 100 as an illegal gratification cannot be accepted at its face value. Several arguments have been addressed to me in support of the plea that the statement of the complainant is not worthy of belief. (After discussing the evidence, his Lordship held that the arguments could not be accepted and proceeded :Again, it was urged on behalf of the petnr. that the whole case against him was based on the testimony of the complainant & as the complainant himself is an accomplice & as the statement of the complainant has not been corroborated by independent evidence the petnr. is entitled to acquittal. My attention has been invited to a decision of the Lahore High Ct. reported as Emperor v. Anwarali A.I.R. (35) 1948 Lah. 27 : 48 Cr.L.J. 964 in which Cornelius J. observed as follows :
All the evidence for the prosecution conveys the impression that it was considered sufficient for establishing a case of bribery against the accused, that it should be proved that the marked notes passed from Mr. Bani to him. Obviously, that is in fact not sufficient for establishing such an offence. Money may be passed from one person to another on a variety of pretexts, & it cannot be remembered too carefully that persons who lend themselves for use as decoys & agents provocateur possess ingenuity & suppleness of wit above the ordinary. No stupid or simple person could ever hope to perform such a function. Therefore it is of the utmost importance in cases of this kind that there should be independent corroboration of the statement of the decoy witness, that the money was received by the accused person for an illegal purpose.
7. I regret I find myself unable to accept the proposition that in cases of this kind there should be independent corroboration of the decoy witness that the money was received by the accused person for an illegal purpose. Informers that is, persons who have joined in, or even provoked, the crime as police spies have not been regarded as accomplices & there are at least two English decisions in. which it has been held that the rule requiring the corroboration of accomplices does not apply to this class of accomplices vide B. v. Bickley, 73 J. P. 239 & B. v. Heuser, 6 Cri. App. Rep. 76. I am of the opinion that every case in which decoys are used must be decided on its own peculiar facts & no general principles as to corroboration can be laid down. (After discussing the evidence the judgment proceeded. I can see no reason whatsoever for doubting the testimony of the complainant. On the other hand, the evidence given by him in Ct. satisfies me that he is telling the truth. He had no motive whatsoever in making a false accusation against a person who bad made no illegal demand from him. Section 5 (ii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. 1947, entitles a Ct. to presume that when a person receives the money he receives it as an illegal gratification.
8. For these reasons I have no hesitation in holding that the petnr. has been rightly convicted of an offence Under Section 161, I. P.C. read with Section 5 (ii), Prevention of Corruption Act. 1947. The sentence of fine which has been imposed upon him is, in my opinion, excessively lenient for an offence of this kind & the petnr. is fortunate indeed that he has escaped the sentence of imprisonment The petn. must be dismissed.