February 3, 2021 1:35:22 am
“Offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act” are offences “against the society”, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday, setting aside a Gujarat High Court order reversing the conviction of an accused under the Act.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah said the HC, which was hearing an appeal against conviction, should have done a “detailed re-appreciation of evidence”.
“We find that the High Court has not strictly proceeded in the manner in which” it “ought to have while dealing with the appeal….we find that, as such, there is no re-appreciation of the entire evidence on record in detail while acquitting…accused,” the top court held.
“The High Court has only made general observations on depositions of the witnesses examined…there is no re-appreciation of the entire evidence on record in detail, which ought to have been done by the High Court while dealing with the judgment and order of conviction passed by the trial court.”
The HC, the bench said, “ought to have appreciated that it was dealing with the first appeal against the order of conviction…Being First Appellate Court, the High Court was required to re-appreciate the entire evidence on record and also the reasoning given by the trial court…Non-re-appreciation of the evidence on record may affect the case of either the prosecution or even the accused”.
The SC said it found that the HC decision is based on “totally erroneous view of law by ignoring the settled legal position”, and that its approach in “dealing/non-dealing with the evidence was patently illegal leading to grave miscarriage of justice”.
The court said, “The High Court ought to have appreciated that it was dealing with offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, which are offences against the society…therefore the High Court ought to have been more careful and ought to have gone in detail. We do not approve the manner in which the High Court has dealt with the appeal.”
The bench did not go into merits of the case and instead remanded it back to the HC and asked it to deal with it “afresh”, “in accordance with law and on its own merits”, and “keeping in mind” what it had said.
Accused Bhalchandra Laxmishankar Dave was working as assistant director in ITI, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, and was charged for the offences punishable under the Act.
The Special Judge, Bharuch, held him guilty and imposed a sentence of five-year imprisonment and fine of Rs 10,000. On appeal, HC reversed this, against which the state government moved SC.
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