It took three-and-a-half decades for the Delhi High Court to decide a criminal appeal filed by a lower court clerk here against his conviction and sentence of one-year imprisonment in a corruption case involving a bribery of Rs.25. The accused passed away during the long hearing of the appeal and the Court had to uphold his conviction posthumously.
After the death of the accused, the case was followed up by his widow and two sons.
The complainant and the accused — Ram Gopal and A.C. Midha respectively — were employees of the salary grade. Ram Gopal was a dispatcher in Urdu daily Daily Pratap while Midha was a clerk in a labour court in the Tis Hazari courts.
Gopal’s allegation against the court clerk was that the latter had demanded a bribe of Rs.25 from him to send a labour court decree to the Labour Department of the Delhi Government for further proceedings for payment of a compensation amount of Rs.1,155 as ordered by the court in 1977.
However, the newspaper employee was not ready to grease the palm of the court clerk, so he reported the matter to the Anti-Corruption Branch. The Anti-Corruption Branch’s sleuths laid a trap and arrested the court clerk red-handed while accepting the bribe amount.
On completion of the probe, a charge-sheet was filed in a lower court. The trial judge held the accused guilty of the charge under Section 161 (since repealed) and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, and awarded him one year imprisonment in 1978. The accused had moved the High Court in an appeal against the trial court judgment the same year.
According to the prosecution, the newspaper employee had approached the labour court following his suspension and subsequent termination from service by the newspaper management in 1977. He had won a decree from the court for payment of Rs.1,155 as compensation. The management had then moved an application for stay of the decree but the court had rejected it.
Thereafter, Gopal went to the Labour Department to enquire about whether the decree had reached there for further proceedings. The officials there told him that it had not reached them. Then, he came back to the labour court to ensure that the decree was sent to the Department.
When Gopal requested the accused to send the order to the Department, the latter allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs.25. However, instead of agreeing to his demand of bribe, the newspaper employee lodged a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Branch. Thereafter, the prosecution proceedings began resulting in conviction of Gopal.