Subramanian Swamy v. Director, Central Bureau of Investigation & Anr

Related to the corruption issue where, the Supreme Court held that the Central Bureau of Investigation did not need sanction from higher authorities to investigate top bureaucrats.

Subramanian Swamy v. Director, Central Bureau of Investigation & Anr

Constitution Bench of the Apex Court, comprising five judges, headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha quashed Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which mandated prior sanction in case of senior officers in corruption cases.

Section 6-A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (for short, ‘the DSPE Act’), which was inserted by Act 45 of 2003, reads as under;

Section 6-A: Approval of Central Government to conduct inquiry or investigation

  1. The Delhi Special Police Establishment shall not conduct any inquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (49 of 1988) except with the previous approval of the Central Government where such allegation relates to –
  2. the employees of the Central Government of the Level of Joint Secretary and above; and
  3. such officers as are appointed by the Central Government in corporations established by or under any Central Act, Government companies, societies and local authorities owned or controlled by that Government.
  4. Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), no such approval shall be necessary for cases involving arrest of a person on the spot on the charge of accepting or attempting to accept any gratification other than legal remuneration referred to in clause (c) of the Explanation to section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (49 of 1988).

The bench further said that, this section also violates Article 14 of the Constitution. Terming that the provision is discriminatory and divides the bureaucracy into two sets of officers and shields those at the senior level, the Court observed that, “All government officials have to be treated equally and have to face the same process of inquiry in graft cases.”

Court further noted that, “Corruption is an enemy of nation and tracking down corrupt public servant, howsoever high he may be, and punishing such person is a necessary mandate under the PC Act, 1988. The status or position of public servant does not qualify such public servant from exemption from equal treatment. The decision making power does not segregate corrupt officers into two classes as they are common crime doers and have to be tracked down by the same process of inquiry and investigation.”

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