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Indian Case Summary

Central Bureau Of Investigation vs V.C. Shukla & Ors on 2 March, 1998 – Case Summary

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In the case of the Central Bureau of Investigation vs V.C. Shukla & Ors on 2 March 1998, the Supreme Court of India was confronted with a complex case involving allegations of corruption, illegal gratification, and foreign exchange violations. The case was presided over by a bench consisting of M.K. Mukherjee, S.P. Kurdukar, and K.T. Thomas.

Facts of the Case

The case began on May 3, 1991, when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) searched the premises of J.K. Jain in New Delhi, leading to the recovery of two diaries, two small notebooks, and two files. These documents contained details of various amounts received from different sources and payments made to various individuals, recorded in abbreviated forms. Preliminary investigation by the CBI revealed payments amounting to Rs. 65.47 crores, out of which Rs. 53.5 crores had been illegally transferred from abroad through hawala channels, during the years 1988 to 1991. The recipients included politicians, government officials, and friends of S.K. Jain, B. R. Jain, and N.K. Jain, who are three brothers carrying on different businesses.

The CBI registered a case on March 4, 1995, under Sections 7 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and Section 56 read with Section 8(1) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973 against the Jains, some public servants, and others. After the completion of the investigation, 34 charge-sheets were filed in the Court of the Special Judge, New Delhi against various politicians, Government servants, and the Jains.

Issues Raised

The main issues raised in the case were whether the entries in the diaries and files were admissible under Sections 34, 10, and 17 of the Evidence Act, and whether there was sufficient evidence to frame charges against the respondents. The respondents contended that the nature and character of the documents inhibited their admissibility under all the above Sections.

Court’s Observations and Judgement

The trial court decided to frame charges and try the respondents, despite their contention that there was no material whatsoever to frame charges against them. The court took cognizance upon the charge-sheets and issued processes against the respondents. However, the High Court set aside the order of the trial court, accepting the contention of the respondents that the documents were not admissible in evidence under Section 34. The High Court observed that the documents were not books of account nor were they kept in the regular course of business. The court also held that the materials collected during the investigation did not raise a reasonable ground to believe that a conspiracy existed, far less, that the respondents were parties thereto.

The case is significant as it highlights the complexities involved in proving corruption and illegal gratification, particularly when the evidence is based on entries in diaries and files. The case also underscores the importance of the admissibility of evidence under the Evidence Act.