(1). Ram Sarup, a Police Constable, attached to Police Station, Tilak Nagar, had been convicted by the Special Judge, Delhi on 8-3-1966 under Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and under S. 161 (Indian Penal Code, and sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment under each count, the two sentences running concurrently).
(2) The case against him is that one Prem Singh went to Tihar Jail on 23-7-1965 to interview Ganga and tohers. The accused-appellant also used to visit the said jail in connection with his duties. The accused contacted Prem Singh and asked him to accompany the accused to the Police Station. Prem Singh had earlier been involved in a criminal case by the Najafgarh police and he felt that Tilak Nagar police might also do the same. The accused thereupon asked Prem Singh that if he was desirous of avoiding to go to the police station, then he should pay the accused Rs.50 by way of bribe. Prem Singh offered a sum of Rs.30 but on Ram Sarup's persistence in demanding Rs.50, Prem Singh paid him Rs.40 because that was all the amount that he had on his person. The accused thereupon asked Prem Singh to pay him the balance of Rs.10/- on the following day and also demanded a buttle of liquor. This amount and the buttle of liquor were to be handed over to the accused at the same place between 4 and 6 P.M.
Prem Singh thereafter went to the Deputy Superintendent of Anti Corruption branch of Police and narrated the aforesaid incident. His statement was recorded and the numbers of the two currency ntoes which he had brought with him for payment to the accused were ntoed in the presence of two non-police officials, Madan Lal and R.A. Massey. Shri Har Narain Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, then sent Prem Singh to the accused person for paying the bribe along with the witnesses mentioned above. The D.S.P. himself stayed a little distance away. The accused was found sitting on a chair near the jail canteen. Prem Singh and Madan Lal buth sat on a vacant chair lying nearby. Massey standing behind them. The accused told Prem Singh that he had been waiting for him. The complainant after expressing his gratefulness for his nto having been involved in a case, handed over a ten rupee ntoe to the accused. The accused reminded Prem Singh about a buttle of whisky to which Prem Singh replied that he could nto purchase one but instead he handed over antoher ten rupee ntoe. The accused then enquired from Prem Singh whether the former should purchase a buttle of illicit or licit liquor, to which the latter replied that it was the pleasure of the accused.
The accused observing that they had now become friends and that Prem Singh would nto be implicated in any case in future, he put one of the currency ntoes in his pocket and was holding the toher one in his hand when the D.S.P. on receiving a signal from Madan Lal came to the spto and recovered the currency ntoes from Ram Sarup. This in short is the prosecution story believed by the Court below. Pw 6 is Prem Singh who has deposed on oath about the story. In the cross examination, it has been elicited that three cases are pending against him, one under S 342/376, Indian Penal Code, antoher under S. 406/420, Indian Penal Code and a still third one under S. 363, Indian Penal Code. The first and the third cases appear to be connected. He had also been proceeded against under S. 7, Criminal procedure Code. According to his statement, he was falsely involved in a case under S.109, Criminal procedure Code. He owns a petrol pump at Najafgarh road.
It is contended by the learned counsel for the accused appellant that the testimony of a man with such shady and questionable characteristics, as admitted by the complainant Prem Singh, does nto deserve acceptance and if he is nto believed, then the entire prosecution case must be discarded. The argument does seem to possess a surface plausibility as a general proposition, but it obviously cannto stand scrutiny in the present case. For one thing, it is only such persons as have at one time or toher indulged in, or been associated with, or are suspected of, criminal activities or propensities that attract unscrupulous police officers for illegal exploitation of their official position at the cost of their victims.
Persons with such shady characteristics serve as easy victims of unscrupulous and dishonest police officers and they facilitate the illegal exploitation by officers so disposed. A police officer unless he is extremely reckless and is possessed of unscrupulous and criminal propensities of a high order, would ordinarily hesitate to resort to methods like the present for extracting money from an honest citizen. I am, thereforee, unable to reject Prem Singh's testimony merely on the ground that certain criminal proceedings are pending against him and that he has shady or doubtful characteristics. His testimony, must be scrutinised on its own merit, of course, keeping in view and paying due consideration to the fact of his being involved in certain criminal proceedings. There is no suggestion on the record or at the bar that he has any enmity with the accused which may have induced him to falsely charge him with the present offence.
I have gone through his evidence with care and also scrutinised his cross-examination. I have nto been able to persuade myself to discard his testimony on the basis of the cross-examination or toherwise on the ground of there being any circumstances telling against his credibility. The learned counsel for the appellant has drawn my attention to exhibit P.J. which is the statement of Prem Singh recorded by the police on 24-7-1965. In this statement, it is mentioned that in the jail, one Havaldar and one Police Constable from Tilak Nagar Police Station used to be posted on duty. Prem Singh confronted with this sentence and he replied that he had made this statement because he was so told by the accused. I have nto been able to understand how this affects the credibility of the witness. It is nto a contradiction contemplated by law which either can be proved or even assuming it to be capable of proof affect the credibility of the witness.
The testimony of Prem Singh P.W. 6 has been amply corroborated in all material particulars by Har Narain Singh, D.S.P, Anti Corruption P.W. 9. Gurandita Mal, Warden, Central Jail, Tihar, P.W. 1 has proved by reference to the relevant records that Prem Singh had interviewed two under trials in the jail. This circumstance is also relevant as a corroborating factor. In regard to the testimony of Madan Lal, L.D.C. Treasurer P.W. 7 he has in his examination-in-chief fully corroborated the testimony of Prem Singh, P.W. 6. On a question by the Court, P.W. 7 undoubtedly stated that the accused present in Court appeared to be the same man as had received the bribe; but he could nto speak with certainty. This aspect was, however, nto pursued in his cross-examination.
R.A. Massey, L.D.C., office of the Deputy Commissioner, P.W. 8 has similarly corroborated in his examination-in-chief the testimony of P.W.6 on a question by the Court, he also stated that he was nto sure whether the person standing in the dock (Ram Sarup) was the same person as had received the bribe. In cross-examination he was asked if due to being in Government service he felt compelled to support the police case, but he denied it categorically. The learned counsel for the appellant has tried to build an argument on the answers given by these two witnesses (P.W. 7 and P.W.8) on Court question that it is nto proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused in Court was the person who had received the bribe as deposed by P.W. 6 and P.W.9 and that he is entitled to benefit of doubt. I am nto impressed by this argument. In the examination-in-chief of P.W.8, who is a clerk in the Deputy Commissioner's Office, the witness has expressly deposed that 'the accused' was sitting on a chair near the canteen who actually took the bribe. In his statement in Court in Urdu also, I find that he has referred to the person taking bride as 'Mulzam' meaning thereby the accused. P.W.7 who is a clerk in the Treasury has also deposed about the 'accused' and 'Ram Sarup Constable' who was sitting in a chair near the canteen and who took the bride.
Whether or nto these witnesses have for certain reasons deliberately tried to shield the accused by attempting to create some doubt in a manner which appears to me to be clumsy, need nto be gone into because whatever be the reason for their answers to the Court questions, these answers to constitute far too slender a material to discredit clear testimony of P.W. 6 and P.W.9 and to ignore the toher material on the record. In the examination of the accused under S. 342, Criminal procedure Code, all that he has said is that Prem Singh is a liar and the toher witnesses have nto deposed anything against him. It is nto even shown that the accused was nto present at the place where the bribe is stated to have been taken by him and that he was somewhere else at that time.
Reference has been made on behalf of the appellant to question and answer No. 9 in the examination of the accused under S. 342. The accused has there stated that on 24-7-1965, the D S P Anti- Corruption, approached him when he was on duty at Tihar Jail and enquired about the whereabouts of Havaldar. The accused replied that the Havaldar might be somewhere near-about. Thereupon, the D S P required the accused to accompany him saying that there were complaints against the Havaldar and that the accused was also nto above board. This answer, in my view, neither explains the prosecution evidence nor does it in anywise inspire me as a persuasive defense version suggesting innocence of the accused. On the toher hand, it has a touch of unplausibility and is difficult to believe. The accused, it may be pointed out, also declined to produce any evidence in defense.
(3) In cases of bribe, it is well to remember, direct testimony of wholly disinterested strangers as eye-witnesses can seldom - if ever - be forthcoming. People generally neither take nor give bribe in the presence of witnesses. It is accordingly either circumstantial evidence or the evidence of trap witnesses which is usually available in such cases. The testimony of Police Officers and of persons associated with traps are nto to be unceremoniously ruled out as tainted without scrutiny. Such testimony deserves consideration by Courts in the light of all the attending circumstances and if it impresses the Court as credible, it can safely be accepted for basing conviction thereon. In cases, where, unfortunately, police personnel, whose solemn patritoic duty is to prevent and detect cases of bribe, is itself charged with acceptance of bribe, the difficulty of finding completely disinterested and stranger eye witnesses is greater still.
In this connection, one has to bear in mind the instinctive disinclination of an average citizen to keep away from activities which may involve his appearance in Court as a witness. It is of course nto a healthy or a desirable attitude on the part of good citizens in a democratic set-up, but in such a situation, the fault in good part may be traced, inter alia, to the general atmosphere in our criminal Courts and the manner in which the witnesses are examined and treated. It is undeniable that in this respect our administration of criminal justice is extremely discouraging for good any busy citizens to render assistance. It is hoped that the required improvement in this respect will nto be delayed. In making the foregoing observations, I must nto be understood to be in favor of the trap methods adopted by the investigating agency. I have merely expressed my view as to how the testimony of trap witnesses is to be evaluated and weighed by the Courts.
(4) On the present record, the offence of the appellant is fully established beyond reasonable doubt and I have no hesitation in upholding the conviction and the sentence which I hereby do. I may before closing draw the attention of the authorities and all concerned to the grave danger to our very existence as a free, honest, democratic welfare society when we became indulgent to our police personnel getting habitual to taking bribes. The appellant must surrender to his bail-bonds to serve out the remaining sentence.
(5). Appeal dismissed.