advocatemmmohan

My photo

ADVOCATEMMMOHAN -  Practicing both IN CIVIL, CRIMINAL AND FAMILY LAWS,Etc.,

WELCOME TO LEGAL WORLD

WELCOME TO MY LEGAL WORLD - FOR KNOWLEDGE IN LAW & FOR LEGAL OPINIONS - SHARE THIS

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sec.19 of P.C. Act - Constitutional validity challanged - to avoid delay in sanctioning permission for prosecution against Politicians, M.L.As, M.Ps. and Govt. Officials - Apex court held that it is not possible to hold that the requirement of sanction is unconstitutional, the competent authority has to take a decision on the issue of sanction expeditiously as already observed. A fine balance has to be maintained between need to protect a public servant against mala fide prosecution on the one hand and the object of upholding the probity in public life in prosecuting the public servant against whom prima facie material in support of allegation of corruption exists, on the other hand and made some guide lines to the parliament (a) All proposals for sanction placed before any sanctioning authority empowered to grant sanction for prosecution of a public servant under Section 19 of the PC Act must be decided within a period of three months of the receipt of the proposal by the authority concerned. (b) Where consultation is required with the Attorney General or the Solicitor General or the Advocate General of the State, as the case may be, and the same is not possible within the three months mentioned in clause (a) above, an extension of one month period may be allowed, but the request for consultation is to be sent in writing within the three months mentioned in clause (a) above. A copy of the said request will be sent to the prosecuting agency or the private complainant to intimate them about the extension of the time-limit. (c) At the end of the extended period of time-limit, if no decision is taken, sanction will be deemed to have been granted to the proposal for prosecution, and the prosecuting agency or the private complainant will proceed to file the charge-sheet/complaint in the court to commence prosecution within 15 days of the expiry of the aforementioned time-limit.”.= WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 305 OF 2007 = Manzoor Ali Khan ... Petitioner (s) Versus Union of India & Ors. ... Respondent (s) = 2014 - Aug.Part- http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41810

  Sec.19 of P.C. Act - Constitutional validity challanged - to avoid delay in sanctioning permission for prosecution against Politicians, M.L.As, M.Ps. and Govt. Officials - Apex court held that  it  is  not  possible  to  hold  that  the  requirement  of sanction  is  unconstitutional,  the  competent  authority  has  to  take  a decision on the issue of sanction expeditiously as already observed. A  fine balance has to be maintained  between  need  to  protect  a  public  servant against mala fide prosecution on the one hand and the  object  of  upholding the probity in public life in prosecuting the public  servant  against  whom prima facie material in support of allegation of corruption exists,  on  the other hand and made some guide lines to the parliament 
(a) All proposals for  sanction  placed  before  any  sanctioning  authority
empowered to grant sanction  for  prosecution  of  a  public  servant  under
Section 19 of the PC Act must be decided within a period of three months  of
the receipt of the proposal by the authority concerned.

(b) Where  consultation  is  required  with  the  Attorney  General  or  the
Solicitor General or the Advocate General of the State, as the case may  be,
and the same is not possible within the three  months  mentioned  in  clause
(a) above, an extension of one month period may be allowed, but the  request
for consultation is to be sent in writing within the three months  mentioned
in clause (a) above. A copy  of  the  said  request  will  be  sent  to  the
prosecuting agency or the private complainant to  intimate  them  about  the
extension of the time-limit.

(c) At the end of the extended period  of  time-limit,  if  no  decision  is
taken, sanction will be deemed to have been  granted  to  the  proposal  for
prosecution, and the prosecuting agency  or  the  private  complainant  will
proceed  to  file  the  charge-sheet/complaint  in  the  court  to  commence
prosecution within 15 days of the expiry of the aforementioned time-limit.”.=

public interest litigation,  seeks  direction
to declare Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988  (“PC  Act”)
unconstitutional and to direct  prosecution  of  all  cases  registered  and
investigated under  the  provisions  of  PC  Act  against  the  politicians,
M.L.As, M.Ps and Government officials, without sanction  as  required  under
Section 19 of the PC Act.=   
the petitioner  is  a
practising advocate in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.   In  the  said  State,
several Government officials have been charged for  corruption  but  in  the
absence of requisite sanction, they could not be prosecuted.   Referring  to
several instances including those noticed by this Court in  various  orders,
it is submitted that the provision for sanction  as  a  condition  precedent
for prosecution is being used by the  Government  of  India  and  the  State
Governments to protect dishonest  and  corrupt  politicians  and  Government
officials.  The discretion to grant sanction has been misused.=
  Therefore, in every case where an application is made to an  appropriate
authority for grant of prosecution in connection with an offence  under  the
PC Act it is the bounden duty of such authority to apply its  mind  urgently
to the situation and decide  the  issue  without  being  influenced  by  any
extraneous consideration. In doing so, the authority must make  a  conscious
effort to ensure the Rule of Law  and  cause  of  justice  is  advanced.  In
considering  the  question  of  granting  or  refusing  such  sanction,  the
authority is answerable to law and law alone. Therefore, the requirement  to
take the decision with a reasonable dispatch is of the  essence  in  such  a
situation. Delay in granting sanction proposal thwarts a very  valid  social
purpose, namely, the purpose of a  speedy  trial  with  the  requirement  to
bring the culprit to  book.  Therefore,  in  this  case  the  right  of  the
sanctioning  authority,  while  either  sanctioning  or  refusing  to  grant
sanction, is coupled with a duty.=
“19. Previous sanction necessary for prosecution.—
(1) No court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable  under  sections
7, 10, 11, 13 and 15 alleged to have been committed  by  a  public  servant,
except with the previous sanction,—
(a) in the case of a person who is employed in connection with  the  affairs
of the Union and is not removable from  his  office  save  by  or  with  the
sanction of the Central Government, of that Government;
(b) in the case of a person who is employed in connection with  the  affairs
of a State and is not  removable  from  his  office  save  by  or  with  the
sanction of the State Government, of that Government;
(c) in the case of any other person, of the authority  competent  to  remove
him from his office.
(2) Where for any reason whatsoever any  doubt  arises  as  to  whether  the
previous sanction as required under sub-section (1) should be given  by  the
Central Government or the State Government  or  any  other  authority,  such
sanction shall be given by that Government or  authority  which  would  have
been competent to remove the public servant from  his  office  at  the  time
when the offence was alleged to have been committed.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code  of  Criminal  Procedure,
1973 (2 of 1974),—
(a) no finding, sentence or  order  passed  by  a  special  Judge  shall  be
reversed or altered by a court in appeal, confirmation or  revision  on  the
ground of the absence of, or any error, omission  or  irregularity  in,  the
sanction required under sub-section (1),  unless  in  the  opinion  of  that
court, a failure of justice has in fact been occasioned thereby;
(b) no court shall stay the proceedings under this Act on the ground of  any
error, omission or irregularity in the sanction granted  by  the  authority,
unless it is  satisfied  that  such  error,  omission  or  irregularity  has
resulted in a failure of justice;
(c) no court shall stay the proceedings under this Act on any  other  ground
and no court shall exercise the  powers  of  revision  in  relation  to  any
interlocutory  order  passed  in  any  inquiry,  trial,  appeal   or   other
proceedings.
(4) In determining under sub-section (3) whether  the  absence  of,  or  any
error,  omission  or  irregularity  in,  such  sanction  has  occasioned  or
resulted in a failure of justice the court shall have  regard  to  the  fact
whether the objection could and should  have  been  raised  at  any  earlier
stage in the proceedings. Explanation.—For the purposes of this section,—
(a) error includes competency of the authority to grant sanction;
(b) a  sanction  required  for  prosecution  includes   reference   to   any
requirement that the prosecution shall be at the  instance  of  a  specified
authority or with the sanction of a specified person or any  requirement  of
a similar nature.”=
Conclusion 
76. The sanctioning authority must bear in mind that what  is  at  stake  is
the public confidence in the  maintenance  of  the  Rule  of  Law  which  is
fundamental in  the  administration  of  justice.
 Delay  in  granting  such
sanction has spoilt many valid  prosecutions  and  is  adversely  viewed  in
public mind that in the  name  of  considering  a  prayer  for  sanction,  a
protection is given to a corrupt public official  as  a  quid  pro  quo  for
services rendered by the public official in  the  past  or  may  be  in  the
future and the sanctioning authority and the corrupt officials were  or  are
partners in the same misdeeds. 
I may hasten to add that this may not be  the
factual position in this (sic case) but the general demoralising  effect  of
such a popular perception is profound and pernicious.

77.  By  causing  delay  in  considering  the  request  for  sanction,   the
sanctioning authority stultifies judicial scrutiny and determination of  the
allegations  against  corrupt  official  and  thus  the  legitimacy  of  the
judicial institutions is  eroded.
It,  thus,  deprives  a  citizen  of  his
legitimate and fundamental right to get justice by setting the criminal  law
in motion and thereby frustrates his right to access judicial  remedy  which
is a constitutionally protected right.
 In this connection,  if  we  look  at
Section 19 of the PC Act, we find that no time-limit is  mentioned  therein.
This has virtually armed the  sanctioning  authority  with  unbridled  power
which  has  often  resulted  in  protecting  the  guilty  and   perpetuating
criminality and injustice in society.

79. Article 14 must be construed as  a  guarantee  against  uncanalised  and
arbitrary power. Therefore,  the  absence  of  any  time-limit  in  granting
sanction in Section 19  of  the  PC  Act  is  not  in  consonance  with  the
requirement of the  due  process  of  law  which  has  been  read  into  our
Constitution by the Constitution Bench decision  of  this  Court  in  Maneka
Gandhi v. Union of India (1978) 1 SCC 248.

80. I  may  not  be  understood  to  have  expressed  any  doubt  about  the
constitutional validity of Section 19 of the PC Act, but in my judgment  the
power under Section 19 of the PC Act must be  reasonably  exercised.  In  my
judgment  Parliament   and   the   appropriate   authority   must   consider
restructuring Section 19 of the PC Act in  such  a  manner  as  to  make  it
consonant with reason, justice and fair play.

81. In my view, Parliament should consider the constitutional imperative  of
Article 14 enshrining the Rule of Law wherein “due process of law” has  been
read into by introducing a time-limit in Section 19 of the PC Act, 1988  for
its working in a reasonable manner. Parliament may, in my opinion,  consider
the following guidelines:

(a) All proposals for  sanction  placed  before  any  sanctioning  authority
empowered to grant sanction  for  prosecution  of  a  public  servant  under
Section 19 of the PC Act must be decided within a period of three months  of
the receipt of the proposal by the authority concerned.

(b) Where  consultation  is  required  with  the  Attorney  General  or  the
Solicitor General or the Advocate General of the State, as the case may  be,
and the same is not possible within the three  months  mentioned  in  clause
(a) above, an extension of one month period may be allowed, but the  request
for consultation is to be sent in writing within the three months  mentioned
in clause (a) above. A copy  of  the  said  request  will  be  sent  to  the
prosecuting agency or the private complainant to  intimate  them  about  the
extension of the time-limit.

(c) At the end of the extended period  of  time-limit,  if  no  decision  is
taken, sanction will be deemed to have been  granted  to  the  proposal  for
prosecution, and the prosecuting agency  or  the  private  complainant  will
proceed  to  file  the  charge-sheet/complaint  in  the  court  to  commence
prosecution within 15 days of the expiry of the aforementioned time-limit.”

      The above observations fully cover the issue raised in this petition.

12.   Thus while it  is  not  possible  to  hold  that  the  requirement  of
sanction  is  unconstitutional,  the  competent  authority  has  to  take  a
decision on the issue of sanction expeditiously as already observed. A  fine
balance has to be maintained  between  need  to  protect  a  public  servant
against mala fide prosecution on the one hand and the  object  of  upholding
the probity in public life in prosecuting the public  servant  against  whom
prima facie material in support of allegation of corruption exists,  on  the
other hand.

13.   In view of the law laid down by this Court, no further directions  are
necessary.

14.         The       writ       petition       is       disposed        of.

         2014 - Aug.Part- http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41810

                                     REPORTABLE

                         IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

                      WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 305 OF 2007


Manzoor Ali Khan                               ...   Petitioner (s)

                                   Versus

Union of India & Ors.                          ...   Respondent (s)


                              J U D G E M E N T


Adarsh Kumar Goel, J.

1.    This petition, by way of public interest litigation,  seeks  direction
to declare Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988  (“PC  Act”)
unconstitutional and to direct  prosecution  of  all  cases  registered  and
investigated under  the  provisions  of  PC  Act  against  the  politicians,
M.L.As, M.Ps and Government officials, without sanction  as  required  under
Section 19 of the PC Act.

2.    According to the averments in the writ petition, the petitioner  is  a
practising advocate in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.   In  the  said  State,
several Government officials have been charged for  corruption  but  in  the
absence of requisite sanction, they could not be prosecuted.   Referring  to
several instances including those noticed by this Court in  various  orders,
it is submitted that the provision for sanction  as  a  condition  precedent
for prosecution is being used by the  Government  of  India  and  the  State
Governments to protect dishonest  and  corrupt  politicians  and  Government
officials.  The discretion to grant sanction has been misused.

3.    The petition refers to various orders of this Court  where  incumbents
were indicted but not prosecuted for want of sanction.  In Common  Cause,  a
registered Society vs. Union of India &  Ors.  (1996)  6  SCC  593,  Captain
Satish Sharma, the then Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas was  held  to
have acted in arbitrary manner in allotting petrol pumps but since  sanction
was refused, he could not be prosecuted.  In Shiv Sagar Tiwari vs. Union  of
India & Ors. (1996) 6 SCC 599, Smt.  Shiela  Kaul,  the  then  Minister  for
Housing and Urban Development, Government of India was indicted  for  making
arbitrary, mala fide and unconstitutional allotments  but  still  she  could
not be prosecuted. In M.C. Mehta (Taj Corridor Scam) vs. Union  of  India  &
Ors., (2007) 1 SCC 110, Ms. Mayawati, the then Chief Minister  of  U.P.  and
Shri Nasimuddin Siddiqui, the  then  Minister  for  Environment,  U.P.  were
indicted and allegations against them were noticed but  they  could  not  be
prosecuted in the absence  of  sanction.   It  is  further  stated  that  in
Prakash Singh Badal & Anr. vs. State of Punjab & Ors., 2007 (1) SCC 1,  Lalu
Prasad @ Lalu Prasad Yadav vs. State of Bihar Thr. CBI(AHD) Patna  2007  (1)
SCC 49 and K. Karunakaran vs. State of Kerala 2007 (1) SCC 59,  validity  of
requirement of sanction was not gone  into  on  the  ground  of  absence  of
challenge to its validity. In Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil vs. Mahesh  Madhav
Gosavi (Dr.) & Ors. (1987) 1 SCC 227, this Court noticed that  there  was  a
steady decline of public standards and morals.  It was necessary to  cleanse
public life even before cleaning the  physical  atmosphere.   The  provision
for sanction under the PC Act confers unguided and arbitrary  discretion  on
the Government to grant or not to grant sanction to  prosecute  corrupt  and
dishonest politicians, M.Ps, M.L.As and Government officials.

4.    In response to the notice issued by this Court, affidavits  have  been
filed by several State Governments and  Union  Territories  but  no  counter
affidavit has been filed by the Union of India.  The stand taken in all  the
affidavits is almost identical.  According to the said stand, the object  of
Section  19  of  the  PC  Act  is  to  protect   public   servants   against
irresponsible, frivolous and vexatious proceedings  for  acts  performed  in
good faith in the discharge of their official duties  and  to  protect  them
from unnecessary harassment of legal proceedings arising  out  of  unfounded
and baseless complaints.  In the absence of such  a  provision,  the  public
servant may not be inclined to offer his/her free and frank opinion and  may
not be able to function freely.

5.    We have heard Mr. D.K. Garg, learned counsel for  the  petitioner  and
Mr. P.S. Narasimha, learned Additional Solicitor General for  the  Union  of
India and learned counsel for various States.

6.    Section 19 of the PC Act is as follows:-

“19. Previous sanction necessary for prosecution.—
(1) No court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable  under  sections
7, 10, 11, 13 and 15 alleged to have been committed  by  a  public  servant,
except with the previous sanction,—
(a) in the case of a person who is employed in connection with  the  affairs
of the Union and is not removable from  his  office  save  by  or  with  the
sanction of the Central Government, of that Government;
(b) in the case of a person who is employed in connection with  the  affairs
of a State and is not  removable  from  his  office  save  by  or  with  the
sanction of the State Government, of that Government;
(c) in the case of any other person, of the authority  competent  to  remove
him from his office.
(2) Where for any reason whatsoever any  doubt  arises  as  to  whether  the
previous sanction as required under sub-section (1) should be given  by  the
Central Government or the State Government  or  any  other  authority,  such
sanction shall be given by that Government or  authority  which  would  have
been competent to remove the public servant from  his  office  at  the  time
when the offence was alleged to have been committed.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code  of  Criminal  Procedure,
1973 (2 of 1974),—
(a) no finding, sentence or  order  passed  by  a  special  Judge  shall  be
reversed or altered by a court in appeal, confirmation or  revision  on  the
ground of the absence of, or any error, omission  or  irregularity  in,  the
sanction required under sub-section (1),  unless  in  the  opinion  of  that
court, a failure of justice has in fact been occasioned thereby;
(b) no court shall stay the proceedings under this Act on the ground of  any
error, omission or irregularity in the sanction granted  by  the  authority,
unless it is  satisfied  that  such  error,  omission  or  irregularity  has
resulted in a failure of justice;
(c) no court shall stay the proceedings under this Act on any  other  ground
and no court shall exercise the  powers  of  revision  in  relation  to  any
interlocutory  order  passed  in  any  inquiry,  trial,  appeal   or   other
proceedings.
(4) In determining under sub-section (3) whether  the  absence  of,  or  any
error,  omission  or  irregularity  in,  such  sanction  has  occasioned  or
resulted in a failure of justice the court shall have  regard  to  the  fact
whether the objection could and should  have  been  raised  at  any  earlier
stage in the proceedings. Explanation.—For the purposes of this section,—
(a) error includes competency of the authority to grant sanction;
(b) a  sanction  required  for  prosecution  includes   reference   to   any
requirement that the prosecution shall be at the  instance  of  a  specified
authority or with the sanction of a specified person or any  requirement  of
a similar nature.”

7.    Question for consideration is whether Section 19  of  the  PC  Act  is
unconstitutional and whether any further direction is called for  in  public
interest and for enforcement or fundamental rights?

8.     The  issue  raised  in  this  petition  is  no  longer  res  integra.
Requirement of sanction  has  salutary  object  of  protecting  an  innocent
public servant against unwarranted and mala fide prosecution.   Undoubtedly,
there  can  be  no   tolerance   to   corruption   which   undermines   core
constitutional values of justice, equality, liberty and fraternity.  At  the
same time, need to prosecute and punish the corrupt is  no  ground  to  deny
protection to the honest.  Mere possibility of abuse cannot be a  ground  to
declare a provision, otherwise valid, to be unconstitutional.  The  exercise
of power has to be regulated to effectuate the purpose of law.   The  matter
has already been dealt with in various decisions of this Court.

9.    In Vineet Narain & Ors. vs. Union of India & Anr. (1996) 2 SCC 199,
this Court observed in paragraph 3 as follows:
“3. The facts and circumstances of the present case do indicate that  it  is
of utmost public importance that this matter is examined thoroughly by  this
Court to ensure that all government agencies, entrusted  with  the  duty  to
discharge their functions and obligations in accordance  with  law,  do  so,
[pic]bearing in mind constantly the concept of  equality  enshrined  in  the
Constitution and the basic tenet of rule of law: “Be you ever so  high,  the
law is above you.” Investigation into every  accusation  made  against  each
and every person on a reasonable basis, irrespective  of  the  position  and
status of that person, must be conducted and completed  expeditiously.  This
is imperative to retain public confidence in the impartial  working  of  the
government agencies.”

10.   Again in a later order in the same case, i.e., Vineet  Narain  &  Ors.
vs. Union of India & Anr., reported in (1998) 1 SCC 226, it was observed  as
under:

“55. These principles of public life are of  general  application  in  every
democracy and one is expected to bear them in mind  while  scrutinising  the
conduct of every holder of a public office. It is trite that the holders  of
public offices are entrusted with certain powers to be exercised  in  public
interest alone and, therefore, the office is held by them in trust  for  the
people. Any deviation from the path of rectitude by any of them  amounts  to
a breach of trust and must be severely dealt with instead  of  being  pushed
under the carpet. If the conduct amounts to an offence, it must be  promptly
investigated and the offender against whom a prima facie case  is  made  out
should be prosecuted expeditiously so that the majesty of law is upheld  and
the rule of law vindicated. It is the duty of the judiciary to  enforce  the
rule of law and, therefore, to guard against erosion of the rule of law.

56. The adverse impact of lack of probity in public life leading to  a  high
degree of corruption is manifold. It also  has  adverse  effect  on  foreign
investment and funding from the International Monetary Fund  and  the  World
Bank who have warned that future aid  to  underdeveloped  countries  may  be
subject to the requisite steps being taken to  eradicate  corruption,  which
prevents international aid  from  reaching  those  for  whom  it  is  meant.
Increasing corruption has led to investigative journalism which is of  value
to a free society. The need to highlight corruption in public  life  through
the medium of public interest litigation invoking  judicial  review  may  be
frequent in India but is not unknown in other  countries:  R.  v.  Secy.  of
State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, 1995 (1) WLR 386.
      ................................
      ................................
      58. .........................

15. Time-limit of three months for grant of sanction  for  prosecution  must
be strictly adhered to.  However,  additional  time  of  one  month  may  be
allowed where consultation is required with the  Attorney  General  (AG)  or
any other law officer in the AG’s office.”

11.   In a recent judgment of this Court in Subramanian Swamy  vs.  Manmohan
Singh & Anr., (2012) 3 SCC 64, the question for consideration was whether  a
private citizen has locus to  prosecute  a  public  servant  and  to  obtain
sanction and how an application for sanction was to be dealt with.   It  was
held that any application for sanction sought  even  by  a  private  citizen
must be looked into expeditiously and decided as  per  the  observations  of
this Court in Vineet Narain case (supra) and guidelines framed  by  the  CVC
which were circulated vide Office Order No. 31/5/05 dated  12.05.2005.   The
relevant clauses have been quoted in the said judgment.  In  paragraphs  30,
33, 49, 50 of the leading judgment, it was observed:
“30. While dealing with the issue relating to maintainability of  a  private
complaint,  the  Constitution  Bench  observed:  (A.R.  Antulay  vs.  Ramdas
Sriniwas Nayak and Anr. (1984) 2 SCC 500, para 6)
“6. It is a well-recognised principle of criminal jurisprudence that  anyone
can set or put the  criminal  law  into  motion  except  where  the  statute
enacting or creating an offence indicates to the  contrary.  The  scheme  of
the Code of Criminal Procedure envisages two parallel  and  [pic]independent
agencies for taking criminal offences to court. Even for  the  most  serious
offence of murder, it was not disputed that a  private  complaint  can,  not
only be filed but can be entertained and proceeded with  according  to  law.
Locus  standi  of  the  complainant  is  a  concept  foreign   to   criminal
jurisprudence save and except that where the  statute  creating  an  offence
provides for the eligibility of the complainant,  by  necessary  implication
the general principle gets excluded by such  statutory  provision.  Numerous
statutory provisions, can be referred to in support of this  legal  position
such as (i) Section 187-A of the Sea Customs Act, 1878 (ii)  Section  97  of
the Gold (Control) Act, 1968 (iii) Section 6  of  the  Imports  and  Exports
(Control) Act, 1947 (iv) Section 271 and Section 279 of the Income Tax  Act,
1961 (v) Section 61 of the  Foreign  Exchange  Regulation  Act,  1973,  (vi)
Section 621 of  the  Companies  Act,  1956  and  (vii)  Section  77  of  the
Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948. This  list  is  only  illustrative  and  not
exhaustive. While Section 190 of the  Code  of  Criminal  Procedure  permits
anyone to approach the Magistrate with a complaint, it  does  not  prescribe
any qualification the complainant is required to fulfil to  be  eligible  to
file a complaint. But where an eligibility criterion for  a  complainant  is
contemplated specific provisions have been made  such  as  to  be  found  in
Sections 195 to 199 CrPC. These specific provisions  clearly  indicate  that
in the absence of  any  such  statutory  provision,  a  locus  standi  of  a
complainant is a concept foreign to criminal jurisprudence. In other  words,
the principle that anyone can set or put the criminal law in motion  remains
intact unless  contra-indicated  by  a  statutory  provision.  This  general
principle of nearly universal application is founded on  a  policy  that  an
offence i.e. an act or omission made punishable by  any  law  for  the  time
being in force … is not merely an  offence  committed  in  relation  to  the
person who suffers harm but is also an offence against society. The  society
for its orderly and peaceful development is interested in the punishment  of
the offender. Therefore, prosecution for serious offences is  undertaken  in
the name of the State  representing  the  people  which  would  exclude  any
element of private vendetta or vengeance.  If  such  is  the  public  policy
underlying penal statutes, who brings an act or omission made punishable  by
law to the notice of the authority competent to deal with it, is  immaterial
and irrelevant unless the statute indicates to the contrary.  Punishment  of
the offender in the interest of the society being one of the objects  behind
penal statutes enacted for larger good of the  society,  right  to  initiate
proceedings cannot be whittled down, circumscribed or  fettered  by  putting
it  into  a  straitjacket  formula  of  locus  standi  unknown  to  criminal
jurisprudence, save and except specific statutory exception.  To  hold  that
such  an  exception  exists  that  a  private  complaint  for  offences   of
corruption committed by public servant is not maintainable, the court  would
require an unambiguous statutory provision and a  tangled  web  of  argument
for drawing a  far-fetched  implication,  cannot  be  a  substitute  for  an
express statutory provision.”
(emphasis supplied)

33. In view of the aforesaid judgment of the Constitution Bench  in  Antulay
case, it must be held that the appellant has the right to file  a  complaint
for prosecution of  Respondent  2  in  respect  of  the  offences  allegedly
committed by him under the 1988 Act.

49. CVC, after taking note of the judgment of the Punjab  and  Haryana  High
Court in Jagjit Singh v. State of Punjab, State of  Bihar  v.  P.P.  Sharma,
Supt. of Police (CBI) v. Deepak  Chowdhary,  framed  guidelines  which  were
circulated vide Office Order  No.  31/5/05  dated  12-5-2005.  The  relevant
clauses of the guidelines are extracted below:
“2 (i) Grant of sanction  is  an  administrative  act.  The  purpose  is  to
protect the  public  servant  from  harassment  by  frivolous  or  vexatious
prosecution  and  not  to  shield  the  corrupt.  The  question  of   giving
opportunity to the  public  servant  at  that  stage  does  not  arise.  The
sanctioning authority has only to see whether the facts  would  prima  facie
constitute the offence.

(ii) The competent authority cannot embark upon  an  inquiry  to  judge  the
truth of the allegations on the basis of representation which may  be  filed
by the accused person before the sanctioning authority, by asking the IO  to
offer his comments or to further investigate the  matter  in  the  light  of
representation made  by  the  accused  person  or  by  otherwise  holding  a
parallel investigation/enquiry by  calling  for  the  record/report  of  his
department.
*     *     *
(vii)  However,  if  in  any   case,   the   sanctioning   authority   after
consideration of the entire material placed before it, entertains any  doubt
on any point the competent authority may specify the doubt  with  sufficient
particulars and may request the authority who has sought sanction  to  clear
the doubt. But that would be only to clear  the  doubt  in  order  that  the
authority  may  apply  its  mind  properly,  and  not  for  the  purpose  of
considering the representations of the accused which may be filed while  the
matter is pending sanction.

(viii) If the sanctioning authority seeks the comments of the IO  while  the
matter is pending before it for sanction, it will almost be  impossible  for
the sanctioning authority  to  adhere  to  the  time-limit  allowed  by  the
Supreme Court in Vineet Narain case.”

50. The aforementioned guidelines are in conformity with the law  laid  down
by this Court that while considering the issue regarding  grant  or  refusal
of sanction, the only thing which the competent  authority  is  required  to
see is whether the material placed by the complainant or  the  investigating
agency prima  facie  discloses  commission  of  an  offence.  The  competent
authority cannot undertake a detailed inquiry to decide whether or  not  the
allegations made against the public servant are true.”

In concurring judgment, it was further observed:

“68. Today, corruption in our country not only poses a grave danger  to  the
concept of constitutional governance, it also threatens the very  foundation
of the Indian democracy and the Rule of Law. The magnitude of corruption  in
our public life is incompatible with the  concept  of  a  socialist  secular
democratic republic. It cannot be disputed that where corruption begins  all
rights  end.  Corruption  devalues  human  rights,  chokes  development  and
undermines justice, liberty, equality, fraternity which are the core  values
in our Preambular vision. Therefore, the duty of the court is that any anti-
corruption law has to be interpreted and worked out in such a fashion as  to
strengthen the fight against corruption. That  is  to  say  in  a  situation
where two constructions are eminently reasonable, the court  has  to  accept
the one that seeks to  eradicate  corruption  to  the  one  which  seeks  to
perpetuate it.

70. The learned Attorney General in the  course  of  his  submission  fairly
admitted before us that out of the  total  319  requests  for  sanction,  in
respect of 126 of such requests, sanction is  awaited.  Therefore,  in  more
than one-third cases of request for prosecution in corruption cases  against
public servants, sanctions have not been accorded.  The  aforesaid  scenario
raises very important  constitutional  issues  as  well  as  some  questions
relating to interpretation of such sanctioning provision and also  the  role
that an independent judiciary has to play in maintaining  the  Rule  of  Law
and common man’s faith in the justice-delivering system. Both  the  Rule  of
Law and equality before law are cardinal questions (sic principles)  in  our
constitutional laws as also in international law and  in  this  context  the
role  of  the  judiciary  is  very  vital.  In  his   famous   treatise   on
Administrative Law, Prof. Wade while elaborating the concept of the Rule  of
Law referred to the opinion of Lord Griffiths which runs as follows:

“… the judiciary accepts a responsibility for the maintenance  of  the  rule
of law that embraces a  willingness  to  oversee  executive  action  and  to
[pic]refuse to countenance  behaviour  that  threatens  either  basic  human
rights or the rule of law.” [See R. v. Horseferry Road  Magistrates’  Court,
ex p Bennett, AC at p. 62 A.]
I am in respectful agreement with the aforesaid principle.

74. Keeping those principles in mind, as we must, if we look at  Section  19
of the PC Act which  bars  a  court  from  taking  cognizance  of  cases  of
corruption against a public servant under Sections 7, 10, 11, 13 and  15  of
the Act, unless the Central or the State Government, as  the  case  may  be,
has accorded sanction, virtually imposes fetters  on  private  citizens  and
also on prosecutors from approaching court against corrupt public  servants.
These protections are not available to other citizens. Public  servants  are
treated as a special class of persons enjoying the said protection  so  that
they can perform their duties without fear and favour  and  without  threats
of malicious prosecution. However, the  said  protection  against  malicious
prosecution which was extended in public interest cannot become a shield  to
protect [pic]corrupt officials. These provisions  being  exceptions  to  the
equality provision  of  Article  14  are  analogous  to  the  provisions  of
protective discrimination and  these  protections  must  be  construed  very
narrowly.  These  procedural  provisions  relating  to  sanction   must   be
construed in such a manner as to advance the causes of honesty  and  justice
and good governance as opposed to escalation of corruption.

75. Therefore, in every case where an application is made to an  appropriate
authority for grant of prosecution in connection with an offence  under  the
PC Act it is the bounden duty of such authority to apply its  mind  urgently
to the situation and decide  the  issue  without  being  influenced  by  any
extraneous consideration. In doing so, the authority must make  a  conscious
effort to ensure the Rule of Law  and  cause  of  justice  is  advanced.  In
considering  the  question  of  granting  or  refusing  such  sanction,  the
authority is answerable to law and law alone. Therefore, the requirement  to
take the decision with a reasonable dispatch is of the  essence  in  such  a
situation. Delay in granting sanction proposal thwarts a very  valid  social
purpose, namely, the purpose of a  speedy  trial  with  the  requirement  to
bring the culprit to  book.  Therefore,  in  this  case  the  right  of  the
sanctioning  authority,  while  either  sanctioning  or  refusing  to  grant
sanction, is coupled with a duty.

76. The sanctioning authority must bear in mind that what  is  at  stake  is
the public confidence in the  maintenance  of  the  Rule  of  Law  which  is
fundamental in  the  administration  of  justice.  Delay  in  granting  such
sanction has spoilt many valid  prosecutions  and  is  adversely  viewed  in
public mind that in the  name  of  considering  a  prayer  for  sanction,  a
protection is given to a corrupt public official  as  a  quid  pro  quo  for
services rendered by the public official in  the  past  or  may  be  in  the
future and the sanctioning authority and the corrupt officials were  or  are
partners in the same misdeeds. I may hasten to add that this may not be  the
factual position in this (sic case) but the general demoralising  effect  of
such a popular perception is profound and pernicious.

77.  By  causing  delay  in  considering  the  request  for  sanction,   the
sanctioning authority stultifies judicial scrutiny and determination of  the
allegations  against  corrupt  official  and  thus  the  legitimacy  of  the
judicial institutions is  eroded.  It,  thus,  deprives  a  citizen  of  his
legitimate and fundamental right to get justice by setting the criminal  law
in motion and thereby frustrates his right to access judicial  remedy  which
is a constitutionally protected right. In this connection,  if  we  look  at
Section 19 of the PC Act, we find that no time-limit is  mentioned  therein.
This has virtually armed the  sanctioning  authority  with  unbridled  power
which  has  often  resulted  in  protecting  the  guilty  and   perpetuating
criminality and injustice in society.

79. Article 14 must be construed as  a  guarantee  against  uncanalised  and
arbitrary power. Therefore,  the  absence  of  any  time-limit  in  granting
sanction in Section 19  of  the  PC  Act  is  not  in  consonance  with  the
requirement of the  due  process  of  law  which  has  been  read  into  our
Constitution by the Constitution Bench decision  of  this  Court  in  Maneka
Gandhi v. Union of India (1978) 1 SCC 248.

80. I  may  not  be  understood  to  have  expressed  any  doubt  about  the
constitutional validity of Section 19 of the PC Act, but in my judgment  the
power under Section 19 of the PC Act must be  reasonably  exercised.  In  my
judgment  Parliament   and   the   appropriate   authority   must   consider
restructuring Section 19 of the PC Act in  such  a  manner  as  to  make  it
consonant with reason, justice and fair play.

81. In my view, Parliament should consider the constitutional imperative  of
Article 14 enshrining the Rule of Law wherein “due process of law” has  been
read into by introducing a time-limit in Section 19 of the PC Act, 1988  for
its working in a reasonable manner. Parliament may, in my opinion,  consider
the following guidelines:

(a) All proposals for  sanction  placed  before  any  sanctioning  authority
empowered to grant sanction  for  prosecution  of  a  public  servant  under
Section 19 of the PC Act must be decided within a period of three months  of
the receipt of the proposal by the authority concerned.

(b) Where  consultation  is  required  with  the  Attorney  General  or  the
Solicitor General or the Advocate General of the State, as the case may  be,
and the same is not possible within the three  months  mentioned  in  clause
(a) above, an extension of one month period may be allowed, but the  request
for consultation is to be sent in writing within the three months  mentioned
in clause (a) above. A copy  of  the  said  request  will  be  sent  to  the
prosecuting agency or the private complainant to  intimate  them  about  the
extension of the time-limit.

(c) At the end of the extended period  of  time-limit,  if  no  decision  is
taken, sanction will be deemed to have been  granted  to  the  proposal  for
prosecution, and the prosecuting agency  or  the  private  complainant  will
proceed  to  file  the  charge-sheet/complaint  in  the  court  to  commence
prosecution within 15 days of the expiry of the aforementioned time-limit.”

      The above observations fully cover the issue raised in this petition.

12.   Thus while it  is  not  possible  to  hold  that  the  requirement  of
sanction  is  unconstitutional,  the  competent  authority  has  to  take  a
decision on the issue of sanction expeditiously as already observed. A  fine
balance has to be maintained  between  need  to  protect  a  public  servant
against mala fide prosecution on the one hand and the  object  of  upholding
the probity in public life in prosecuting the public  servant  against  whom
prima facie material in support of allegation of corruption exists,  on  the
other hand.

13.   In view of the law laid down by this Court, no further directions  are
necessary.

14.         The       writ       petition       is       disposed        of.





.............................................J.
                                            [ T.S. THAKUR ]




.............................................J.
                                      [ ADARSH KUMAR GOEL ]
New Delhi
August 06, 2014






No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.