Sanction provision in graft cases misused: Apex court

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NEW DELHI - The instrument of sanction which was treated as a “shield” against vexatious complaints has now become a “sword” to defeat the legal provisions on punishing corrupt pubic servants, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

The court said this while asking the government to place before it the number of cases pending with it for sanction to prosecute public servants in corruption matters.

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly told Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati to also give the duration for which the cases seeking sanction for prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) had been pending with the government.

The court’s observation came during the hearing on a petition by former MP Subramanian Swamy.

Swamy challenged a Delhi High Court order declining to direct Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to accord sanction on his letter seeking to prosecute the then telecom minister A. Raja in the scandal involving spectrum allocation to mobile companies in 2008.

The apex court said the details on pending cases after Vahanvati told the court that the sanctioning authority under the PCA should not take more than six months in deciding on an application seeking sanction to prosecute a public servant.

The attorney general described the time limit of six months as reasonable while addressing the apex courts concern whether the authority could sit indefinitely on the prima facie findings of the competent court that there was a fit case for the prosecution of a public servant.

On the question of delay in according sanction, the court observed: Judicial time is scarce. The court can not direct the sanctioning authority to grant sanction.

The court observed that there were numerous instances where decisions were not taken for several years. This included matters related to giving compensation for land acquisition and grant of compensation to workers under labour laws.

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