K.S. Sidhu, J.
1. The appellant, Sant Lal, has been convicted by learned Special Judge, Ajmer, and sentenced under Section 161 I.P.C. and under Section 5(1)(d) read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, to rigorous imprisonment for one year and a fine of Rs. 100/-or, in default, further rigorous imprisonment for 2 months under each count. The substantive sentences of imprisonment have been ordered to run concurrently.
2. The case of the prosecution, which resulted in the conviction & sentence of the appellant, as aforementioned, is that while posted as Head Constable in Police Station Sadar Kotwali, Ajmer, on 24-8 1971 he accepted from Ram Lal P.W. a sum of Rs. 100/- as illegal gratification for showing favour by admitting Bhanwarlal P.W. to bail. A case under Section 332 & 353 I.P.C. had been registered against Bhanwarlal & others with the police station Sadar Kotwali, Ajmer at the instance of one Vishnudatt Sharma, a Food Inspector, on August 23, 1971. The S.H Order, Police Station Sadar Kotwali, Ajmer, entrusted Santlal (hereafter called the appellant) with the investigation of the case. The appellant summoned Bhanwarlal, his brother. Om Prakash and their servants Noratan & Omji to the police station for interrogation on August 23, 1971. All of them were detained in the police station till late in the evening. Ram Lal, being father of Bhanwarlal and. Om Prakash, got worried over the matter. He went to the police station and met the appellant requesting him to admit his sons and servants to bail. The appellant kept Ram Lal waiting in the police station for a long time and eventually told him that he would release them on bail only if he was paid Rs. 300/- by way of gratification Ram Lal left the police station telling the appellant that he would try to arrange the amount for payment to him.
3. On August 24, 1971, Ram Lal contacted Man Singh, Deputy Superintendent of police, (A.C.D), and gave him a written complaint Lx. P. 1 complaining that the appellant had demanded a bribe of Rs. 300/- from him as a condition for grant of bail to his sons and servants. Man Singh immediately started preparations for laying a trap and apprehending the appellant red-handed. Ram Lal gave Man Singh 10 currency notes of the denominational value of Rs. 10/- each. Man Singh initialled these notes, noted down the number of these notes and dubbed them with phenol phethaleine powder. The said notes were returned to Ram Lal with instructions that he would give them to the appellant on his demand. Meanwhile, Man Singh had also called two Molbir witnesses, namely, Kishan Lal and Ram Swaroop, who had already arrived when the currency notes were being treated with phenol phethaleine powder Man Singh instructed Ram Lal to give the currency notes to the appellant in such a manner and circumstances so that Kishan Lal and Ram Swaroop could hear the talk, if any, between him and the appellant at the time of giving the currency notes to him.
4. The prosecution story further goes that after analyzing the scheme of trap in the manner indicated above, Man Singh sent Ram Lal, so that Ram Lal could contact the appellant and pay the money to him with Kishan Lal and Ram Swaroop witnessessing the transaction, if possible. Man Singh with other police officials followed Ram Lal and party in jeep.
5. It is alleged that Ram Lal met the appellant near the gate of Sabzi Mandi He took the appellant from there to the tea-stall of Mirchu Mai PW inviting the appellant for a cup of tea there.
6. Ram Lal's version is that all four of them namely, the appellant, Kishan Lal, Ram Swaroop and Ram Lal himself went inside the tea-stall and occupied their seats on the benches lying there. While they were taking tea, the appellant demanded the money. Ram Lal tendered the 10 currency notes which had already been treated with phenol phethaleine powder for payment to the appellant. The appellant grudgingly accepted the amount stating that it was not enough. Ram Lal pleaded with him for acceptance stating that he was a man of meagre means and could not therefore arrange for Rs. 300/-. The appellant took the ten currency notes from Ram Lal and put them in the pocket of trousers Ram Lal then made the preplanned signal indicating to Man Singh and party waiting outside that the amount of bribe had already been paid Man Singh entered the tea-stall, disclosed his identity and caught both the hands of the appellant asking him to produce the amount which he had accepted from Ram Lai. The appellant, at first, denied having taken any money from Ram Lal Man Singh then pointed to the appellant's pocket asking him as to what it contained. It was then that the appellant took out the 10 currency notes from his pocket and surrendered them to Man Singh. The appellant was asked to dip his hand in a glass of water. It is alleged that since his hand been smeared with phenol phethaleine power by reason of his hand holding the currency notes in that hand, the water in the glass turned pink. The water was put in a clean bottle and sealed. The pant pocket was also dipped in water and it was discovered that thereby the colour of the water changed into pink. This water was also poured into a clean bottle and sealed. These two bottles were sent to the chemical examiner for analysis. The chemical examiner recorded the note that the water contained phenol phethaleine and sodium carbonate.
7. On completion of the investigation and after obtaining the sanction of the competent authority for the prosecution of the appellant, the investigating officer submitted the final police report in the court of learned Special Judge, Ajmer. The learned Judge framed appropriate charges against the appellant under Section 161 IPC and Section 5(1)(d) read with 5(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947. The appellant denied these charges.
8. During the trial, the prosecution examined, among others, Ram Lal, Kishan Lal, Ram Swaroop, Mirchumal, Ganga Singh, Umaid Singh and Man Singh as witnesses in support of its case. Ram Swaroop and Kishan Lal PWs, the two Motbirs, who were associated by the investigating officer with him as trap witnesses, did not support the prosecution story in that behalf. They were declared hostile at the instance of the Public Prosecutor. Mirchumal PW also did not entirely support the prosecution story. PWs Ram Lal and Man Singh, of course, supported the prosecution story. Sub Inspector Umaid Singh, who claims to have been a member of the said party and as such witnessed the transaction of passing on of the currency notes by Ram Lal to the appellant came on the stand to buttress the evidence of Ram Lal and Man Singh.
9. In his statement under Section 342 Cr.P.C., the appellant denied the allegations made against him and pleaded and complained that he had been falsely implicated in this case by Ram Lal and Man Singh acting in concert with each other, for, as he further complained that both of them harboured grudge against him for reason of their own. He explained that Ram Lal got him falsely implicated in this case, for, thereby he wanted to prevent him from arresting his sons Bhanwarlal and Om Prakash in the case which was under his investigation. As for Dy. S.P. Man Singh's role in this case, the appellant stated that long before this occurrence, he had purchased a cow for Mansingh for Rs. 500/- and that Man Singh had paid him Rs. 300/- only. Since he wanted Man Singh to pay the balance, the latter felt annoyed over it.
10. The appellant examined as many as nine witnesses in defence. These include DWs Raju, Man Singh (a name-sake of Dy S.P. Man Singh), and Sohan Singh, who testified as respects the transaction of purchase of cow by the appellant for Dy. S.P. Man Singh and the delivery of the cow at his residence at Ajmer.
11. The learned trial judge has discussed the evidence produced on both sides and has recorded, inter alia, the following findings:
(a) PWs Kishan Lal and Ram Swaroop, the Motbir witnesses, who did not support the prosecution story, suppressed; the truth. Their, evidence, therefore, deserves to be ignored.
(b) PW Mirchumal, the owner of the tea-stall where the bribe is said to have been given by Ram Lal to the appellant, also avoids telling the truth. His evidence does not help the prosecution.
(c) The presence of S.I. Umaid Singh at the time when and the place where the bribe alleged to have been paid by Ram Lal to the appellant, is doubtful.
(d) PWs Ram Lal and Man Singh, who have supported the prosecution story in its entirely, are trustworthy witnesses.
(e) It is safe to conclude from the statements of DWs Raju, Man Singh and Soban Singh that Dy S.P. Man Singh PW had purchased a cow which was taken from village Kirap to Ajmer by DW. Raju Ghowkidar and at the request of the appellant and DW Man Singh.
(f) The appellant has failed to establish that Dy. S.P. Man Singh did not pay the full price of the cow.
It was on the basis of these findings that the learned trial judge came to the conclusion that the appellant is guilty of both the charges framed against him. Consequently he convicted and sentenced the appellant as aforementioned.
12. The main argument raised before me in this appeal is that since all the three independent and residual witnesses in this case, namely, Kishan Lal, Ram Swaroop and Mirchumal have refused to support the prosecution story, it would not be safe to record a conviction on the basis of the evidence of interested witnesses like Ram Lal and Man Singh I am inclined to agree. My reason for this opinion follows.
13. After discussing the evidence of DWs Raju, Man Singh and Sohan Singh, the learned trial judge, as already stated, has recorded a finding that 'from their statements it may be said safely that one cow was purchased by Shri Man Singh through the above said persons, but it cannot be said from their testimony that the price of the cow was not paid by Shri Man Singh and when the accused demanded its price, be felt annoyed. Now, if Dy S P. Man Singh had purchased a cow through these witnesses, which, it is reasonable to believe that he did, the least, one would expect of him, is that he would make straight forward admission in that behalf and explain the manner in which and the person to whom he had paid the price of the cow. Instead, Man Singh prefers in his deposition to make a total denial regarding the purchase of any cow by him through these witnesses and the delivery of any cow at his residence by D.W. Raju Chowkidar. For this reason, Raju Chowkidar made it clear in his evidence that he had taken the cow from village Kirap to the resident of Dy. S.P. Man Singh in Ajmer at the instance of the appellant and DW. Man Singh. The total denial by Dy. S.P. Man Singh of these facts in his evidence makes the denial suspect and deprives the evidence of Dy. S.P. Man Singh of such credibility as it might have otherwise carried.
14. The only other witness, on whose testimony the learned trial judge has relied, is PW. Ram Lal. He is obviously an interested witness who harboured a grudge against the appellant to the effect that the appellant had summoned his sons to the police station for interrogation and had refused to release them on bail as required by him. Even otherwise Ram Lal has given evidence which does not carry much conviction. For example, he stated that before he paid the amount of Rs. 100/- to the appellant in the tea-stall of Mirchumal on August 24, 1971, he had sent Rameshwar to the appellant for paying the full amount of Rs. 300/- to him against an express undertaking by the appellant that he would release his sons on bail and issue receipt for the amount. Ram Lal further stated that Rameshwar actually went to the appellant and offerred the amount to him on the conditions stated above and that the appellant refused to accept the amount on those conditions stating that he would produce the sons of Ram Lal in the court for such order regarding bail as the court may consider proper. Rameshwar has appeared as a defence witness and denied that Ram Lal hid given him Rs. 300/- for payment to the appellant and that he had contacted the appellant and offered the amount to him.
15. Then there are certain material discrepancies in the statement of PW kam Lal Ram Lal, for example, stated that before he contacted Dy S.P. Man Singh in his office, he had already met Kishan Lal and Ram Swaroop PWs on the way and taken them along with him to his office. On the other hand, Man Singh would have us believe that he himself had called these witnesses to his office after Ram Lal contacted him and made the complaint to him. Ram Lal further stated that both Kishan Lal and Ram Swaroop PWs were with him in the tea stall of Mirchumal, when he paid the bribe to the appellant. The case set up by the investigating officer, on the other hand, is that Kishan Lal was waiting outside the tea stall with S.I. Umaid Singh and that Ram Swaroop PW was the only Motbir witness who was present inside the lea stall at that time. Ram Lal further stated that the appellant removed the trousers from his body and gave the same to the investigating officer in the latter's office in Suchana Kendra. The investigating officer, on the other hand, would have us believe that he hid got the trousers removed at this board and dipped its pocket in the water to ascertain if thereby the colour of the water would change into pink The learned trial judge has dismissed all these discrepancies as of no consequence. Normally, one should be prepared to ignore such discrepancies for even honest witnesses may make such mistakes on minor details Ram Lal is, however, not such a witness in respect of whom these discrepancies may be easily ignored. He is obviously an interested witness. He could not easily make these mistakes being the principal witness who had a deep stake in this prosecution In any case, it would not be safe to record a conviction on his interested testimony without corroboration.
16. For all these reasons, I am of opinion that the appellant deserves benefit of doubt. Giving him that benefit, the appeal is allowed & the conviction & sentences of the appellant are set aside. Instead, he is acquitted. He is already on bail He need not surrender to his bail bonds.