Section 6A of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act saying “…irrespective of their status or position, corrupt public servants are corrupters of public power.”
The law that prevailed till this judgement justified prior permission from the government in case of higher bureaucracy on the ground that if no protection is to be given to the officers, who take decisions and make discretion, then anybody can file a complaint and an inspector of the CBI or the police can raid their houses any moment.
But the SC bench comprising Chief Justice of India RM Lodha has stricken down that provision with the following argument: “The corrupt public servants, whether high or low, are birds of the same feather and must be confronted with the process of investigation and inquiry equally. Based on the position or status in service, no distinction can be made between public servants against whom there are allegations amounting to an offence under the PC Act, 1988.”
That means, the CBI, which was once termed by the same court as a caged parrot, is now virtually given a free hand to probe all corruption cases concerning higher bureaucracy. After the landmark judgement, CBI director Ranjit Sinha, as quoted by a section of media, said that the judgement gave huge responsibilities on CBI’s shoulder, and the investigative agency would ensure that no innocent civil servant is harassed. He said, utmost due diligence would be taken in those cases, and such probes would be done by an officer of the rank of joint director or above in the CBI.
Armed with the favourable judgement, the CBI may soon begin probe against at least 10 officers of joint secretary and above in their alleged role in corruption. Earlier, the investigative agency was denied nod by the Centre. The agency last year filed an affidavit to the Supreme Court asking the government at least to state reasons when permission is denied to probe a senior officer. According to the current law, the Centre may not only deny permission to the CBI, but is not obliged to state the reasons behind denial of such permissions.
“Corruption is an enemy of the nation and tracking down corrupt public servants and punishing such persons is a necessary mandate of the PC Act, 1988. It is difficult to justify the classification which has been made in Section 6-A because the goal of law in the PC Act, 1988 is to meet corruption cases with a very strong hand and all public servants are warned through such a legislative measure that corrupt public servants have to face very serious consequences,” the judgement of the Apex Court said.