The Bombay High Court set aside the conviction of two Maharashtra government engineers charged with accepting bribe upto Rs 1100.
Ravindra Joshi and Narayan Mane were acquitted on the ground that the prosecution "miserably" failed to prove its case against them. Joshi and Mane were charged with demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 1,100 and Rs 700 respectively from an agriculturist in 1986.
The Judge was hearing an appeal filed by Joshi and Mane challenging a Sessions Court order of 1994 convicting them under the Prevention of Corruption Act and sentencing them to five years in jail.
The prosecution case is that the complainant, Ramesh Gurav, had taken contract for a project of Ujani Canal sub- division in Solapur district in August 1986.
He completed the work and approached Joshi, then an assistant engineer, and Mane, a junior engineer with the Ujani canal sub-division - to check the work and prepare the bill to secure payment from the Government.
It is alleged Joshi and Mane, after a lot of delay, prepared the bill and forwarded it to the Finance Department.
When Gurav went to take his cheque, he learnt it was for a lesser amount. When he went back to the two and demanded bill for exact amount, Joshi and Mane demanded bribe.
Gurav approached the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), which laid a trap and nabbed the duo with the bribe money.
The two accused, however, told the ACB officials the money was not bribe but loan taken from them which Gurav was returning.
"Upon analysis of the evidence adduced by the prosecution, it is clear that prosecution has miserably failed to establish its theory that there was a demand of gratification. There is no cogent and convincing proof of any demand of gratification," Justice Jadhav said.
The court held that the prosecution has failed to establish that the amount received by the accused was in the nature of illegal gratification, bribe or demand.