• Hon’ble Supreme Court in “Narendra Champaklal Trivedi vs State of Gujarat [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 97 OF 2012], while dealing with a case related to conviction for the offence punishable under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, held that:

    It is the settled principle of law that mere recovery of the tainted money is not sufficient to record a conviction unless there is evidence that bribe had been demanded or money was paid voluntarily as a bribe. [Para 12]

    The demand and acceptance of the amount as illegal gratification is the sine qua non for constituting an offence under the Act. It is also settled in law that there is a statutory presumption under Section 20 of the Act which can be dislodged by the accused by bringing on record some evidence, either direct or circumstantial, that money was accepted other than the motive or reward as stipulated under Section 7 of the Act  It is obligatory on the part of the court to consider the explanation offered by the accused under Section 20 of the Act and the consideration of the explanation has to be on the anvil of preponderance of probability. It is not to be proven beyond all reasonable doubt. It is necessary to state here that the prosecution is bound to establish that there was an illegal offer of bribe and acceptance thereof. The same has to be founded on facts. In this context, we may refer with profit to the decision in “M. Narsinga Rao v. State of A.P.” [(2001) 1 SCC 691] wherein a three-Judge Bench referred to Section 20 of the Act and stated that the only condition for drawing the legal presumption under Section 20 is that during trial it should be proved that the accused has accepted or agreed to accept any gratification. The section does not say that the said condition should be satisfied through direct evidence. Its only requirement is that it must be proved that the accused has accepted or agreed to accept the gratification. [Para 13]

    SC on the fact of the case observed that:

    In the case at hand, the money was recovered from the pockets of the accused-appellants. A presumption under Section 20 of the Act becomes obligatory. It is a presumption of law and casts an obligation on the court to apply it in every case brought under Section 7 of the Act  The said presumption is a rebuttable one. In the present case, the explanation offered by the accused-appellants has not been accepted and rightly so. There is no evidence on the base of which it can be said that the presumption has been rebutted. [Para 17]