No Government sanction required to probe public servants: SC

Shruti Sethi

The question whether Central Government’s prior sanction under section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act was necessary before a public servant could be proceeded against on corruption charges came before the Apex Court on 17th December 2013. This question arose through an application filed in coal block allocation scam seeking it the direction of the Court to do away with the provisions of prior sanction of the Centre in cases monitored by court.

The government presented a view that such a provision was necessary to prevent frivolous and vexatious charges being made against honest bureaucrats, affecting the efficiency of administration.
The bench deciding the question comprised of Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Madan B. Lokur. Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Kurian Joseph on 17th December, 2013 by its majority verdict asserted in negative and said that no such government nod was necessary. In a concurring order but with different reasoning, Justice Madan B. Lokur too held that “Sanction is not necessary under section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act when the case under the Prevention of Corruption Act is monitored by court.

The three-judge bench headed by Justice R M Lodha cleared the road block and allowed prosecution to go on without waiting for sanction under Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which created the nation’s prime investigating agency. The three judges gave two separate judgments which concurred on the interpretation of law.
Accepting the argument of the petitioner, Common Cause, the bench stated that the hurdle should be removed for speedier conclusion of the investigation and trial of those who hold the post of joint secretary and above. It was argued by the petitioner that when the court takes over the monitoring, the role of the government with regard to sanction came to an end.

Recently, the CBI has also turned around against the government stand on sanction for prosecution. In the Coalgate proceedings in the Supreme Court the investigating agency had come out openly and sided with the petitioner organization that CBI should not be burdened with the tedious procedure for sanction when the court itself is monitoring the case as in the Coalgate affair. Earlier, in the 2G scam, the court had dispensed with sanction, leading to arrest of top government functionaries.

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