New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday announced that Central Bureau of Investigation no more needs the permission from the government to probe the corruption cases against bureaucrats.
The historic verdict was declared by the apex court under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
Chief Justice Lodha, who wrote the judgment, said ‘This provision on the face of it is not valid. It grants absolute protection to corrupt officers from prosecution. They don’t need a shield like this merely because they are likely to be harassed.’
The five judge Constitution Bench comprising Justices R.M. Lodha, A.K. Patnaik, S.K. Mukhopadhaya, Dipak Misra and Ibrahim Kalifulla held that Section 6A of the Act.
According to the verdict, ‘Corrupt persons irrespective of the status should be treated equally and no discrimination whatsoever was permissible, when the mandate of the Prevention of Corruption Act was to eliminate corruption.’
Senior lawyer KK Venugopal said ‘The section means that for investigation into allegations against central government employees of joint secretary level or above, clearance will be sought but investigation against others below that rank can continue.’
He further added ‘The section only covers offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. However, after today’s order, the government approval is dispensed with (in cases) where the court has initiated or is monitoring the investigation.’
The CBI Director Ranjith Sinha said ‘We are happy with the Supreme Court’s judgment.’
In 2013, SC had ruled that CBI no more need a statutory prior sanction in probe in 2G scam.
Prashant Bhushan, the lawyer for public interest organisation Common Cause stated ‘The implication of the decision is that the protection that was extended to the ministers as well as the Prime Minister now stands removed.’ Bhushan is one of the petitioners in the case.
Bhushan further added ‘It underlines the need for a totally independent investigating agency under an independent Lokpal. Unfortunately this Lokpal brought in by the government Bill will be dependent upon government-controlled CBI.’
Today’s judgment has provided immense power to the CBI to probe graft cases without waiting for the nod of the government.