Criminal Appeal No. 2056 of 2014 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 553/2011) and Criminal Appeal Nos. 2057-58 of 2014 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) Nos. 2203-2204/2011). Case: 1. Edmund S. Lyngdoh, 2. Deva Prasad Sharma Vs 1. State of Meghalaya, 2. Central Bureau of Investigation. Supreme Court

Case Number:Criminal Appeal No. 2056 of 2014 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 553/2011) and Criminal Appeal Nos. 2057-58 of 2014 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) Nos. 2203-2204/2011)
Party Name:1. Edmund S. Lyngdoh, 2. Deva Prasad Sharma Vs 1. State of Meghalaya, 2. Central Bureau of Investigation
Judges:T.S. Thakur and R. Banumathi, JJ.
Issue:Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 - Sections 5(1), 5(2), 6; Indian Penal Code (IPC) - Sections 120B, 420; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) - Sections 235(2), 313; Constitution of India - Articles 166, 166(2)
Judgement Date:September 16, 2014
Court:Supreme Court
 
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Judgment:

R. Banumathi, J.

  1. Leave granted.

  2. These appeals arising out of SLP (Crl.) Nos. 2203-2204/2011 are filed challenging the judgment of the Gauhati High Court confirming the conviction of the Appellant-first accused (Deva Prasad Sharma) Under Section 420 Indian Penal Code, 120B Indian Penal Code and Section 5(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (for short 'the P.C. Act') and enhancement of the sentence imposed on him. Fourth accused (Edmund S. Lyngdoh) has preferred SLP (Crl.) No. 553/2011 challenging the reversal of his acquittal and assailing the conviction Under Section 420 Indian Penal Code read with Section 120B Indian Penal Code.

  3. Deva Prasad Sharma (A-1) died on 9.10.2011 during the pendency of the petition before this Court and his legal representative was brought on record by this Court's Order dated 14.11.2011 in Crl. Appeal arising out of SLP (Crl.) Nos. 2203-2204/11 and his son Debashish Sharma is pursuing the appeal.

  4. Briefly stated, case of the prosecution is that Deva Prasad Sharma (First accused) was the then Chief Engineer of North Eastern Hill University, Shillong (for short 'NEHU'), Stetnel Roy (A-2) was the Accounts Officer, W.M.R. Wahlang (third accused) was the then Assistant Finance Officer, Edmund S. Lyngdoh, proprietor of M/s. E.S. Enterprise (A-4) and T.S. Bareh, proprietor of M/s. Premiere Enterprise (A-5), N.P. Garg, Executive Engineer, Shri G.L. Sharma, Jr. Engineer, Sanjay, Sr. Technical Assistant and Shri H. Nongkynrih, Section Officer, Construction Division of NEHU have colluded together for procurement of Damp Seal Cement from some fictitious and non-existent firms at an exorbitant rate during the year 1982 to mid 1985. In furtherance of this collusion, it is alleged that A-1 invited quotation on 12.12.1982 from 12 firms for supply of Damp Proof Cement (DPC) at the rate of Rs. 42.75 per kg. though the then actual market rate was Rs. 5/- to Rs. 7/- per kg. Even though the Purchase Committee had approved only two firms for supplying the materials, A-1 is alleged to have placed orders from many firms and persons without ascertaining the available stock and actual requirement which resulted in leaving huge quantities of the materials so purchased unused. On the basis of the complaint lodged by Dr. B.D. Sharma, the then Vice-Chancellor of NEHU, case was registered and investigation was taken up by the CBI. In the course of investigation, CBI found a prima facie case against A-1 to A-3, Shri Edmund S. Lyngdoh, the owner of the firm M/s. E.S. Enterprises (A-4), Shri T.S. Bareh of M/s. Premiere Enterprises (A-5) and other suppliers and charge sheeted them Under Section 120B Indian Penal Code read with Section 420 Indian Penal Code and Sections 5(2) read with 5(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947. At the investigation stage, others were dropped from the case and chargesheet was filed only against A-1 to A-5. The trial court framed the charges against A-1 to A-3 Under Sections 120B Indian Penal Code read with 420 Indian Penal Code and Section 5(2) read with Section 5(1)(d) of the PC Act, 1947, to which they pleaded not guilty. As far as A-4 and A-5 are concerned, charges were framed against them Under Sections 120B Indian Penal Code and 420 Indian Penal Code. The trial court convicted A-1 Under Section 120B Indian Penal Code read with Section 420 Indian Penal Code and Under Section 5(2) of the PC Act and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment. A-2 to A-5 were acquitted of the charges.

  5. Being aggrieved by the acquittal of A-2 to A-5 and also seeking for enhancement of punishment for the first accused, CBI preferred appeal before the High Court challenging his conviction and sentence of imprisonment imposed by the trial court. Both the appeals were heard together and the learned single Judge of the Gauhati High Court enhanced the punishment imposed on the first accused, and dismissed the appeal preferred by the first accused. The details of conviction of A-1 and the sentences imposed on him by the trial court and enhancement of sentence by the High Court is as under:

  6. A-2 died during the pendency of appeal before the High Court. The acquittal of accused 3 to 5 was reversed and they were convicted Under Sections 120B Indian Penal Code and 420 Indian Penal Code. So far as imposing the quantum of sentence, the High Court remanded the matter to the trial court with a direction to pass appropriate orders after giving opportunity to the Accused 3 to 5 in regard to the quantum of sentence Under Section 235(2) Code of Criminal Procedure. Being aggrieved with the order of reversal of acquittal, the Appellants are before us. Pursuant to the order of this Court dated 31.01.2011, trial court passed order imposing sentence upon fourth accused. For the conviction Under Section 420 Indian Penal Code and Section 120B Indian Penal Code, fourth accused was imposed sentence of imprisonment of five years and three years respectively and fine was also imposed.

  7. We have heard the submission of the learned Counsel for the Appellants and the Respondents and we have given our due consideration to the same.

  8. Re: Criminal Appeal qua first accused Deva Prasad Sharma (since dead): First accused was the Chief Engineer of the NEHU at the relevant time and the first accused and A-2 and A3 were Technical Members in the Purchase Committee. On 12.12.1982, first accused invited sealed quotations from 12 firms for the supply of Damp Proof Cement (DPC) without mentioning the quantity and quality required. In response, quotations were received from six firms and the same were scrutinized on 6.4.1983 which is said to be in contravention of norms and procedure and the rate of Rs. 42.75 per kg. quoted by M/s. Premiere Enterprises (A-5) and M/s. Edmund S. Lyngdoh (A-4) were found to be the lowest and after making comparative statement, A-1 appended his initial with date.

  9. On 7.04.1983, A-1 placed order upon four different firms of A-4 - M/s. Edmund S. Lyngdoh and M/s. Premiere Enterprise belonging to T.S. Bareh (A-5) for supply of 2 metric tones (MT) each at the quoted price of Rs. 42.75 per kg. On 04.06.1983 in terms of the order placed and the prices quoted, fourth accused through his firm M/s. Edmund S. Lyngdoh and M/s. E.S. Enterprise and also M/s. T.S. Bareh supplied DPC at the rate of Rs. 42.75 per kg. On 06.07.1983, the Purchase Committee of NEHU, in which first accused was the Technical Member approved the rate of Rs. 42.75 per kg quoted by the fourth accused and M/s. Premiere Enterprises for purchase of DPC.

  10. The learned Counsel for the first accused contended that there is no evidence to show that A-1 had induced the Purchase Committee to approve the rates of two firms M/s. Premiere Enterprises and M/s. Edmunds S. Lyngdoh- fourth accused at the rate of Rs...

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