Need concrete evidence in bribery cases: Karnataka High Court tells ACB
The Karnataka High Court dismissed a bribery case against a retired sub-registrar, stressing the necessity for concrete evidence of both demand and acceptance. Despite funds found during an ACB search, the court highlighted the absence of proof linking them to bribery. Emphasizing the misuse of law, it dismissed charges due to insufficient evidence, originating from an anonymous 2019 complaint against office staff.
The Karnataka High Court has emphasized the critical need for substantial evidence showcasing the 'demand and acceptance' of bribes, as it dismissed a bribery case registered by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) against Srikanth, a retired sub-registrar of Gadag, under the Prevention of Corruption Act. A bench led by Justice M. Nagaprasanna granted Srikanth's petition, calling for the cancellation of the case registered against him by the ACB police on bribery charges.
The court highlighted that allegations of demanding bribes under Section 7(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act necessitate concrete proof of both the demand and acceptance of the illicit payment. Stressing the importance of proving these elements, the bench emphasized that only with definitive evidence can such charges be substantiated.
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The case stemmed from the discovery of Rs. 9,390 in the possession of Srikanth during an ACB search conducted at the sub-registrar's office. Additionally, Rs. 50 was found in his pocket and seized by investigators. Srikanth clarified that these sums were legitimate fees collected for document registrations within the office.
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The crucial point in question was the absence of concrete evidence proving that Srikanth had indeed demanded and accepted a bribe. The court noted a lack of recorded incidents or documentation by ACB officials during their investigation that could validate the allegations. Therefore, the court deemed the continuation of the case for trial as a potential misuse of the law and subsequently dismissed the charges against Srikanth.
The case originally arose from an anonymous complaint filed in 2019 alleging the demand for bribes by staff in the Gadag sub-registrar's office for expediting public works. Following the complaint, the ACB police searched the office and seized the aforementioned sums from Srikanth. Subsequently, a charge sheet was filed against him for purportedly demanding and receiving bribes, leading to the trial court accepting the case for trial.