Wednesday, May 07, 2014

How Supreme Court’s Tuesday judgement makes CBI director the most powerful bureaucrat

CENTRAL government officers holding the rank of joint secretaries and above can now be probed by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) without taking prior government permission, Supreme Court said on Tuesday in a landmark judgement that will in many ways make CBI director, an IPS officer, more powerful than cabinet secretary, the top Indian bureaucrat, a post reserved for IAS cadres. A five-judge constitutional bench ruled in favour of striking down…
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.


  1. We are thankful to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India which has strengthened our faith in the Justice system. This is indeed a landmark judgement. As happens in so many cases the intention behind introducing Section 6A was to protect honest public servants from frivolous and vexatious prosecution. But ground reality is honest officers are being harassed and prosecution sanction is being withheld in case of corrupt officers. The officers guilty of misdemeanors are themselves deciding whether to grant prosecution sanction or not. Obviously if you reverse roles and give discretion to the thief to decide his case he will give decision in his own favor. Thus it is essential that an Accountability Commission is set up. The sooner the better. All such cases of corruption in which documentary evidence has been collected under RTI and there is clear complicity of officers can be utilized to bring a person to book. At present except for option of approaching Courts there is no forum to ensure accountability of higher bureaucracy. Officers holding the posts of Joint Secretary are expected to shoulder higher responsibility and examine files and take informed decisions. At present all onus of responsibility lies with the clerk at the lowest rung. This must change.

  2. Now the only request to the Hon'ble Court is to open prosecution for the Corrupt Judges too. Today the Police or CBI cannot even open prosecution against a District Judge leave the higher ones. Few judges are also black sheep and prosecution shall be open for them also.

    1. I agree my friend. Judicial reforms are essential. There are numerous cases in which Policemen have with great difficulty chased and caught culprits, murderers but the Judge took half a second in granting bail. When the culprit later jumped bail, the Hon'ble Judge lashed out at the Police and called our men incompetent. Judges should have a 30 days attachment with Policemen in a thana, tihar jail and naxal affected areas during their training/probation period so they understand difficulties in field and ground realities. The constraints our men work under is huge. Judicial reforms followed by police reforms is essential.

    2. What about the corrupt police officers? in our country the extortion by the higher level police officers is an important issue unfortunately a few of them caught by the system still lot of them continuing the extortion. CBI almost totally manned by IPS officers and handing this power to them is not good for the better governance. already the policy makers are showing reluctance to take decision and if this trend continues, the developmental governance will get suffered. the only solution to this is to make the CBI a multi service body where IAS,IPS,IRS and Judiciary service officers posted and this organization should be headed by a supreme court judge.

    3. The Lokpal can very well take care of corrupt Police Officers in CBI. No one is above law.

  3. The same principal should be applied for the judges themselves, who are currently shielded by the CJI's sanction. There are many instances of judges being corrupt. I have heard it said from Supreme Court lawyers that many venal judges take huge amounts of money which are given to some third part 'trust' or the other to magically win cases. One former CJI cleared 3 cases of huge financial import on his last day in office. Why are there no cases against them?