MADURAI: Holding that during appeals the view favouring an acquitted accused must be taken into consideration, the HC bench here has upheld the acquittal of a VAO who was charged with receiving a bribe of `500.
In February 2004, C Vaithilingam, a VAO, was arrested for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of `500 from a resident Sathiyanandham of Periyakottai village in Pattukottai taluk for approving a name transfer on patta. The money was allegedly given to the village menial Shanmugam at his house. He too was arrested.
However, the trial court acquitted the VAO stating that there was no evidence to show that the application for name transfer was forwarded to the official.
Challenging his acquittal, the Government Advocate (Criminal side) submitted that the bribe amount was recovered from Shanmugam. Further a phenolphthalein test showed positive results. However, the counsel for the accused submitted that there was no evidence of the VAO having demanded the bribe or that Shanmugam received the bribe on his behalf.
Dismissing the appeal, Justice R Mala said that in the absence of evidence the basic charge has not been proved.
“Mere acceptance (of money) is not sufficient to convict the accused and furthermore, recovery is also not sufficient to fascinate conviction,” she said.
Pointing out that the phenolphthalein test was not conducted immediately, the judge said that if two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence on record, the Appellate Court should not disturb the finding of acquittal recorded by the trial court.