By : M.S.Yatnatti: Editor and Video Journalist Bangaluru : Public Servants please keep your Accounts in shape: many raids investigations and court verdicts are coming in. These raids and verdicts give strong message to public servants to keep their accounts clean and Eveready. Public servants income and expenditure should be legal and accountable and their assets should not be in excess of their known sources of income. Clause (e) of the Sub-section 13(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 defines an offence what is popularly called possession of disproportionate assets in the following words-"A public servant commits the offence of criminal misconduct if he or any person on his behalf, is in possession or has, at any time during the period of his office, been in possession for which the public servant cannot satisfactorily account, of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income.”.The aforesaid definition makes it abundantly clear that the commission of the said offence becomes complete only when the possession of pecuniary resources or property is disproportionate to the known sources of income.
This expression known source of income was not defined in the earlier Prevention of corruption Act, 1947, or in the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1964 which created this offence for the first time. However, case law was available on this point. It was held in C.S.D. Swamy v. The State, that:"The expression known sources of income must have reference to sources known to the prosecution on a thorough investigation of the case. It was not, and it could not be, contended that known sources of income means sources known to the accused. The prosecution cannot, in the very nature of things, be expected to known the affairs of an accused person. Those will be matters specially within the knowledge of the accused within the meaning of S. 106 of the Evidence Act ......, and if the prosecution has failed to disclose all the sources of income of an accused person, it is always open to him to prove those other sources of income which have not been taken into account or brought into evidence by the prosecution.”The aforesaid interpretation of the expression 'known sources of income' was reiterated by the Supreme Court in the case of Sajjan Singh v. State of Punjab, andHemant Kumar Mohanti v. State of Orissa.However, it is important to mention that the new Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988 has defined the expression known sources of income in the Act itself by way of an Explanation attached to clause (e) of sub-section 13(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in the following words:-"Explanation:- 'Known sources of income' means income received from any lawful source, and such receipt has been intimated in accordance with the provisions of any law, rules or orders for he time being applicable to a public servant.”Thus, it is seen that, now for a source of income to qualify as a known sources of income for the purposes of S. 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, it is essential that it should satisfy the following two conditions, namely:-(i) it should be a lawful source of income, and (ii) the receipt of income from such a source should have been intimated in accordance with the provisions of any law, rules or orders for the time being applicable to the concerned public servant.As a natural corollary, it immediately follows that:-(i) any income received from a source which is not lawful cannot be considered for inclusion in the expression known sources of income for the purposes of S. 13(1)(e) of the said Act, even if such an income was actually received by the concerned public servant.(iii) any income, even though received from a lawful source, cannot likewise be considered for inclusion in the expression known sources of income for the aforesaid purposes, if the receipt of such income has not been intimated in accordance with the provisions of any law, rules or orders for the time being applicable to the concerned public servant.Thus, it is obvious that even if the existence of a particular source of income is proved by a public servant, unless it satisfies the aforesaid both essential conditions of lawful source and receipt of income having been intimated, it cannot be considered as a known source of income while ascertaining whether or not, an offence of possession of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to known sources of income, under Sec. 13(1) (e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 has been made out.