R.J. Singh Ahluwalia v. The State of Delhi

After reading this case analysis you will learn about the sanction required to prosecute a high-profile accused on charges of corruption and bribery i.e. illegal gratification by public officials.
CITATIONAIR 1971 SC 1552
COURTSupreme Court of India
JUDGES/CORAMJustice I.D. Dua and Justice S. Sikri
DATE OF JUDGEMENT07.09.1970

Introduction

The case is about the practice of illegal gratification famously known as corruption or bribe by public officials.

Facts

The facts of the case are as follows: The Deputy Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Defence, and Department of Defence Supplies issued a circular emphasizing the latest date of submitting the application forms for additional quota of electronic equipment is December 31, 1966. Shri Anand Singh Bawa, Director of the Northern India Plywood (P) Ltd., went to the Co-ordination Department of DGTD for the purpose of submitting two applications; one in his own name and the other in the name of his father. They were desirous of setting up projects for the manufacture of electronic and radio components. He reached that office on December 31, 1966 after 4 p. m. and presented his applications to the appellant who was working as Assistant in Co-ordination III of the DGTD, the appellant’s duty being to attach proformas to applications and send them on to the Electrical Directorate after obtaining the signatures of the Section Officer, Co-ordination Branch. The appellant demanded Rs. 1,000 as illegal gratification for entertaining those applications. Shri Anand Singh Bawa told the appellant that he had no money with him at that time and that the appellants should contact him on Monday the 2nd January, 1967 to collect the amount. Shri Bawa also gave to the appellant his telephone number.

In the meantime Shri Bawa approached the Special Police Establishment and informed Shri V. N. Nogi, Deputy Superintendent of Police about the appellant’s demand of bribe. A trap was then organized and pursuant thereto the appellant was caught soon after receiving Rs. 1,000 in currency notes. The appellant was charged under Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and under Section 161, I.P.C.

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The Special Judge trying the appellant convicted him under both the sections and imposed a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for four years and fine of Rs. 2,000 under Section 5(2) read with Section 5(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and three years’ rigorous imprisonment under Section 161, I.P.C. Both the sentences were, however, to run concurrently.

Appeal to the High Court was dismissed by a learned single Judge In the High Court challenge to the validity of the sanction was based on the invalidity of its authentication. It was not disputed that the appellant was removable by the President of India.

Issues

The main issue in the case was: Whether the appellant’s prosecution was sanctioned by the competent authority or not?

Summary of court decision and judgment

The Court accepted the contention brought forward by the appellant stating that indeed the President is the competent authority to give sanction. Further the Court refrained from re-examination of the findings of the lower courts and thus, accepted the conclusion of finding the appellant was guilty of demanding illegal gratification and thereby the sentence was valid. Relying on the judgment of theirs in B. G. Goswami vs Delhi Administration[1] the sentence was finalized of this case.

In that case the Supreme Court noted that law prescribes minimum sentence of 1 year rigorous imprisonment and fine in such cases. It was noticed in this case that the appellant had undergone the agony and harassment of trial for 7 years, had lost his job and he and his family members had suffered financially. He was found to have already undergone imprisonment for two and half months. In the circumstances the Court reduced the sentence to imprisonment already undergone but increased the fine from Rs. 200/- to Rs. 400/-.

To conclude the Court took into the agony the appellant must have gone through for 17 years of this protracted trials and also of losing his job, thereby the Court reduced the sentence to the imprisonment already undergone and the fine imposed was the same. Hence, sentence reduced.

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Analysis

Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code defines corruption as follows:

“Whoever, being or expecting to be a public servant, accepts or obtains, or agrees to accept, or attempts to obtain gratification whatever, other than legal remuneration as a motive or a reward for doing or forbearing to do any official act or for showing or forbearing to show, in exercise of his official functions, favour or disfavor to any person with the Central or State Government or Parliament or Legislature of any State or with any public servants as such…….”

The offence of corruption has always been considered as a serious anti-social act which distorts any system set up for development and upliftment of the society. The section 6 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 specifies a condition of possessing a previous sanction for prosecuting in 3 mentioned cases.  And as per Article 77 of the Constitution the President under clause (3) shall make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of India and for allocating among Ministers of the said business. Thus the contention of the appellant as to the sanction of the rules must be by the President of India was duly accepted by the Court and the respondents who submitted the sanction in the next hearing or contention being raised. According to me this decision was rightfully taken and the decision of reducing the sentence was correct.

Conclusion

The famous words defining the term corruption are “Corruption is like diabetes can only be controlled but cannot totally be eliminated”, although there has been lasting methods and regulations imposed to curb corruption we still are miles away from reducing it.


[1] 1973 AIR 1457, 1974 SCR (1) 222.