If there is no demand for a bribe during a trap laid by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the public servant may still be accused under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act) Section 7 if demand is proved by circumstantial evidence. This section broadly covers the act of a public servant accepting gratification other than legal remuneration as a motive or reward for performing or forbearing to perform any official act.
To establish an offense under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the prosecution must establish two essential elements. The first involves the demand for gratification in exchange for a favor, and the second pertains to the acceptance of gratification by the individual making the demand.
In the case of Neeraj Dutta v. State (Government of NCT of Delhi) 2022 SCC online SC 1724, it has been established that a demand for gratification can be proven through circumstantial evidence. It is firmly established that, in order to establish the commission of an offense punishable under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, it is essential to provide evidence of both the demand for gratification and the acceptance of said gratification.
Furthermore, the Constitution Bench, as emphasized in the case of Neeraj Dutta, reaffirms that the presumption under Section 20 of the PC Act can only be invoked upon the substantiation of key facts, specifically, the demand for gratification by the accused and its subsequent acceptance.
To invoke Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, the prosecution must establish the demand for gratification beyond a reasonable doubt. The terminology used in Section 7 is ‘gratification,’ indicating that there must be a specific demand for gratification rather than a simple request for money. The crucial element is the demand for gratification.
If the prosecution successfully proves both the occurrence of the demand for gratification and its subsequent acceptance, the presumption under Section 20 can be triggered. In such cases, the court is empowered to presume that the demand was made with the intention of serving as a motive or reward for the performance of an official act.
In your case, there is a lack of evidence supporting the demand for gratification. As a result, the offenses punishable under Section 7 have not been substantiated. It is crucial to establish both the demand and acceptance, as these elements are essential for proving the offense of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by corrupt means. Therefore, you cannot be held accused of the offense punishable under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.