Coalgate: CBI differs with Centre on issue of sanction

Differing from Centre, CBI told Supreme Court that there was no need for approval of competent authority in quizzing bureaucrats from rank of joint secretary in court-monitored probe like Coalgate.

New Delhi: Differing from the Centre, CBI on Thursday told the Supreme Court that there was no need for approval or sanction of competent authority in quizzing bureaucrats from the rank of joint secretary in a court- monitored probe like the Coalgate.
The agency made the submission after Attorney General G E Vahanvati said section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which deals with the issue of approval or sanction to investigate government officers of the rank of joint secretary and above, "has to be complied with until it is struck down by the court".

However, the agency said there is no requirement of sanction for prosecution in cases where court has either directed investigation or is monitoring investigation of case.

"The requirement of sanction for prosecution is not mandatory when the same is done pursuant to court direction or where cases are monitored by the court," senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, appearing for the CBI, submitted before a bench headed by justices R M Lodha, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.

The brief submission of the CBI, which will continue on September 10, came after Vahanvati concluded his arguments by asserting that section 6A of the Act was like a safeguard to protect honest officers from being subjected to harassment.

The Attorney General was responding to the two queries put forward by the apex court on July 10 as to why clarification should not be made that sanction from the Government for investigation of the offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 is not necessary as it is the stand of the Government that the power of supervision for investigation has already been shifted from the Government to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

Secondly, the court also wanted to know from the Attorney
General as to why sanction of the Government is necessary in respect of "court monitored" or "court directed" investigations.

Vahanvati said the general power of the CVC is to supervise the functioning of the CBI under the DSPE Act and the purpose of section 6A of the Act should not be understood in the manner that it is for throttling the probe.

The bench said since constitutional courts are guardian of the right of the people it could safeguard honest officer from harassment in the court-monitored probe.

"Are these things not taken care by the court," the bench asked.
The Attorney General said section 6A will not be a road block in the inquiry and one should not proceed with the assumption that sanction will not be granted.

During the earlier hearing, Vahanvati had submitted that before the officer concerned is investigated, CBI should make an application to the court seeking a response of the government as giving a go-bye to section 6A would deprive the concerned persons of the right to be heard.


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