Graft probe against sr PSU bureaucrats may need prior sanction
New Delhi: Senior bureaucrats working in public sector undertakings and cooperative societies may get the protection of prior sanction from competent authorities if corruption charges against them are to be probed.
A proposal in this regard is under the consideration of a Group of Ministers on tackling corruption headed by Defence Minister A K Antony.
At present, there is no such requirement of a prior sanction for prosecuting a public servant working on deputation in PSUs under Section 197 of Criminal Procedure Code, which requires the central government`s nod for sanction for prosecution.
Official sources said a recommendation on the basis of an expert committee report on disciplinary and vigilance inquiries has been sent to the GoM.
The Committee under the chairmanship of former Chairman of Union Public Service Commission P C Hota (Hota Committee) has recommended that Section 197 of CrPC be amended to extend the requirement of sanction for prosecution to the government servants on deputation to government-owned organisations also, they said.
"The recommendation was submitted to the government in 2010. After deliberations, the recommendation was sent to the GoM on anti-corruption measures which is still being looked into," an official in the Department of Personnel and Training said.
As far as the sanction under Section 197 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 is concerned, there is a distinction between a government servant serving directly under the government in a department or ministry and a government servant on deputation to government-controlled organisations, the Committee said in its report.
"At present the protection of sanction is not available
to the government servant on deputation to a cooperative society or other similar organisations. We consider this as unfair since the government servant posted to such organisations on deputation is very much discharging official duties at the behest of the competent authority of the organisation to which he has been on deputation.
"We recommend that Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 may also be amended to extend the requirement of sanction for prosecution to the government servants on deputation to government-owned or government controlled organisations also," it said.
The Committee, however, said that this recommendation is not to be viewed as insulating such government servants from penal action for corruption but rather as a protection against misinformed criminal action for official acts done by them in good faith.
The 10-member GoM under the chairmanship of the Defence Minister is considering the Hota Committee`s recommendation on the issue of deciding sanction for prosecution, the official said.
One of the Terms of Reference of the Group is consideration of relevance or need for section 6(A) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 which makes it mandatory for an organisation to get approval from the central government before conducting any inquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Whereas, Section 197 of CrPC restricts a court from taking cognisance of any offence committed by any person who is or was a judge or magistrate or a public servant without prior permission from the central government.
The GoM is also considering amendment to Article 311 of the Constitution to provide for summary proceedings in cases of grave misdemeanor or blatant corruption by public servants among others.
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