The J&K High Court has acquitted a KAS officer who had been falsely booked for corruption six years ago.
Setting aside the conviction of Mohammad Ashraf Wani who was earlier sentenced to two years jail term by a trial court here, the High Court observed that mere possession and recovery of currency notes from an accused do not attest his offence.
The bench of Justice M K Hanjura set aside the judgment of Special Judge Anti-Corruption Srinagar which had convicted Wani as officiating Joint Director, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD).
Pointing out holes in the investigation, the bench observed that the witnesses have “demolished the prosecution case.”
“Mere possession and recovery of currency notes from the accused without proof of demand and acceptance cannot be construed to mean that the offences leveled against the accused are proved,” the court said, while allowing Wani’s appeal.
The court held that “neither the complainant nor the shadow witness have supported the prosecution case in its material particulars, that is, regarding the demand and acceptance of the bribe money by the accused”.
On the close appreciation of the testimony of the members of the Vigilance Organisation raiding party, the bench said, they have not in any manner, whatsoever, pleaded for prosecution version that the demand and acceptance of the illegal gratification was made by the accused in their presence.
“This version is consistent with the innocence of the accused buttressed with the fact that the shadow witness did not witness the crime” court added.
The court held that while the prosecution has not examined the witnesses who were present in the office of the accused when the bribe money was allegedly paid to the accused by the complainant, the complainant has “knocked the bottom out of the prosecution case.”
“The statement of the complainant that he pushed the tainted money forcibly into the pocket of the jacket of the accused which he was wearing at that moment turns turtle the entire prosecution edifice,” the court said.
Moreover, it said, the “shadow witness” has not in any manner supported the prosecution version to the effect that the accused demanded and accepted the bribe money from the accused in his view and presence.
Wani had approached the High Court through his counsel and senior lawyer Mohammad Altaf Haqani challenging the judgment by Special Judge Anti- Corruption Srinagar.
Wani was booked by the Vigilance after a complainant approached it by alleging that Wani had demanded Rs 10,000 for issuing his posting orders in CAPD.