Lokpal nod mandatory to probe corrupt officers?
The Centre is considering changes in anti-corruption legislation to make it mandatory for CBI or any other investigating agency to seek prior approval from the Lokpal to probe corruption charges against government servants, a move apparently aimed at shielding the corrupt.
New Delhi: The Centre is considering changes in anti-corruption legislation to make it mandatory for CBI or any other investigating agency to seek prior approval from the Lokpal to probe corruption charges against government servants, a move apparently aimed at shielding the corrupt.
The government, however, said this was being done to ensure efficient and transparent working of the employees.
Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, or Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, or Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Lokpal shall have the power to grant sanction for prosecution, according to the provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act.
This mean CBI or any other investigating agency need to take permission from the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas or similar bodies in the states before probing corruption charges, officials said.
The 6A clause of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DPSE) Act, which governs CBI, says no inquiry or probe can be conducted into any offence alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, except with prior approval of the central government. Similar provisions exist in the CrPC and PC Act.
The Supreme Court had, in March last year, held as "invalid and unconstitutional" the legal provision which makes sanction of competent authority mandatory for CBI to probe a corruption case against an officer of Joint Secretary-rank or above, saying it has the propensity of shielding the corrupt.
When contacted, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh said this was being done to ensure efficient and transparent working of the employees.
"The government does not want to discriminate against any employee at any level. We want to make a cordial atmosphere to ensure efficient and transparent working of the employees," Singh told a news agency.
The anti-corruption body Lokpal is yet to be set up by the Centre. An amendment bill in this regard is being examined by a parliamentary committee. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 8 last year.
It has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice headed by Rajya Sabha member EM Sudarsana Natchiappan.
"This (seeking prior nod) may have both good and bad effects. CBI being an independent agency should be given a free hand. If they need to take prior permission before apprehending a government servant then it may become a long and drawn out process. It will only create more bureaucracy," G Venkatesh Rao, a senior Supreme Court counsel, said.
The move to inform Lokpal should be post-facto regarding the action taken by the agency. "The move is contrary to the spirit of the Supreme Court judgement of removing prior sanction for JS and above under Section 6A of the DSPE Act," he said.