For 20 years, A Subair has been living with the taint of a corrupt official. All because of two Rs 20 and Rs 5 currency notes produced as proof.
A clerk in the Kerala government’s transport office in Attingal, Subair was reportedly caught “red-handed” accepting a bribe of Rs 25 from a driving licence applicant, Munaf, on April 25, 1989.
A trial court sentenced him to one year imprisonment, and a fine of Rs 350. The verdict was upheld by the Kerala High Court.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court reversed the order and acquitted him because the prosecution failed to prove Subair had demanded a bribe.
“Mere recovery of currency notes (of Rs 20 and Rs 5) by itself cannot be held to be proper or sufficient proof of the demand and acceptance of bribe,” the court said.
Courts are not bound to draw a presumption of guilt where the alleged gratification is “too trivial”, the Bench said.
Punching holes in the verdicts of the trial court and the high court, the bench pointed out that complainant Munaf was not examined by the prosecution, which did not have any convincing answer as to why he was not examined.
“In the absence of examination of the complainant, there is no substantive evidence to prove the factum of demand,” the SC said.
Even the investigating officer did not state anything about demand of bribe, it noted.