M.P. Thakkar, J.
(At the admission stage)
1. R. &. P is before us. Counsel for the appellant is heard fully.
2. A retired Govt. Officer (Ex-Deputy Educational Adviser of the Education Ministry at New Delhi) has been convicted under Section 165A of the Indian Penal Code (and sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for three months and to pay a fine of Rs. 5000/-) for offering a sum of Rs. 5000/- by way of illegal gratification to an I.A.S. Officer holding the post of Commissioner of Municipal Corporation of Surat. It is not disputed (indeed it is admitted) that the envelope containing currency notes of Rs. 5000/- was handed over by the appellant to the Commissioner in his Chamber on that day. His defence is that the Commissioner had misunderstood his motive and purpose and his innocent act of offering the sum by way of a part payment in respect of contribution of Rs. 25,000/- which was offered by him on behalf of the institution represented by him (Saifiyah Foundation) was wrongly understood as an offer for illegal gratification. The defence (in our opinion) has been rightly disbelieved. Admittedly:
(1) No talk had taken place between them on any prior occasion for payment of such a sum.
(2) The offer for contribution of cost of laying the pipe-line as suggested by the Institution had yet to be considered-not to speak of its being accepted.
(3) The Commissioner had not asked the appellant to make any part payment (there was not even a mention of Rs, 5000/-).
3. In this background the following inconvenient questions arise:
(1) Why did the appellant bring with him Rs. 5000/- in Government currency notes?
(2) Why did he place them in an envelope and offer the envelope containing the notes to the Commissioner? Are official payments i lade by handing over envelopes containing currency notes?
(3) Why did he do so across the table in the Chamber instead of paying to the Cashier or Accountant of the Corporation against a receipt?
(4) Why was it not accompanied by an application mentioning the offer and the purpose of the payment?
(5) Would the appellant, an ex-Government Officer (not a businessman or layman) make the part payment in respect of an offer which was at the highest under consideration without any demand on the spur of the moment?
What is more,
(1) The appellant told the Commissioner (P.W. 2) at the time ofgiving the notes 'As an elderly person, let me take privilege with you'. And there is no reason to disbelieve P.W. 2 on this point.
(2) When the Mayor came there at the request of the Commissioner, the appellant tried to snatch away the envelope.
(3) When the Commissioner narrated the incident to the Mayor in the presence of appellant he did not dispute the version. On the contrary when he was reprimanded, and taken to task for his disgraceful act, he fell at his feet, apologized and said, 'pardon me, I will take it back and will go away from here and I will not come back to Surat again. Think of may family and children. Think of my reputation.' (There is no reason to disbelieve either the Commissioner or the Mayor both of whom depose to this effect).
(4) The defence version was not narrated by the appellant to the Mayor when he was rebuked for his ignominious act.
(5) It is not even suggested that the Commissioner (or the Mayor) had any reason to falsely implicate the appellant. Nor is it possible to believe it.
(6) It is not possible to believe that the Commissioner and the Mayor both misunderstood the appellant.
4. Counsel for the appellant urges three submissions:
(1) The defence version is probable.
(2) The appellant had no motive to offer illegal gratification.
(3) Sentence of three months is excessive.
5. The first point has already been answered. Emphasis is laid on the ct that defence version was related to Dy. S.P. who was summoned ere by the Mayor, But this clearly was an after-thought. His conduct fore the arrival of Dy. S.P. was one which was inconsistent with his innocence. Hence we do not see any substance in this contention.
6. So far as the second point is concerned, we concur with e view that the offer was made in order to ensure the acceptance of e proposal to take the pipe-line in detour by the suggested route. We do not repeat the reasoning of the learned trial Judge but rest content in the observation that we fully agree with the reasoning and concur in the conclusion.
7. As regards the question of sentence, we cannot accede to the argument. The sentence perhaps errs on the side of leniency. It is not an fence committed by a petty Govt. servant who is unable to make the two ids meet and unable to meet the demands made by the acquisitive society. high offbial after retirement trying to corrupt a young I.A.S. Officer at the threshold of his career and trying to inculcate into his head the ethos 'Everyone has a price. There is nothing and nobody that money cannot buy' that is the limit. Unless he is sent to jail for the extremely short period of three months the faith in the system will be shaken for there cannot be one law for a petty Clerk and another for a retired Govt. Officer. Nor will the sentence serve any deterrent purpose if it remains in the illusory sphere of the notional one day and/or fine formula.
8. We are told that the appellant is suffering from the after effects of a stroke and from hypertension though no affidavit of any reputable physician is placed on record in support of the plea. Hypertension is understandable in view of the prosecution and the attendant tension. Unless persons guilty of such serious crime are punished, and seen to be punished, respect for law and law Courts will disappear. If punishment is to serve some purpose, it must be 'seen' to be mated out swiftly when the crime is fresh in the minds of people. If it merely remains on paper for years or if it is virtually condoned by the notional one day-curn-fins formula, instead of seeing that the criminals are punished, what people will see will be that nothing can happen to people of status even if they are found guilty of such serious offences. They will not see the facade of hyper-tension which in any case is a much prevalent ailment and for which or any other ailments, if any, the appellant will be doubtless looked after by the jail doctors who are equally qualified and competent as are their counterparts. We refuse to be swerved from our path of duty by this sub stuff.
9. We, therefore, do not propose to admit this worthless appeal which can serve but the purpose of blocking the way of a meritorious case wherein an innocent accused might be waiting his turn in the queue. Hence summarily dismissed.