Serving and retired public servants are likely to be given a protective shield by making it compulsory for probe agencies like CBI to take prior approval of the central and state governments concerned before conducting any inquiry against them. The move assumes significance as there have been demands from IAS officers and other civil servants seeking protection from the investigating agencies on bonafide decisions taken by them.
They had cited legal cases being faced by former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh, and former coal secretaries P C Parekh and H C Gupta, for their alleged involvement in second generation (2G) spectrum and coal blocks allocations scams respectively. They are known for their good reputation but facing investigations, these officers had claimed.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) may shield both the serving and retired public servants, official sources said Tuesday. It may make it mandatory for the probe agencies to seek prior approval from the competent authority which may be the appointing authority or administrative department where the officer concerned is working or has worked, they said.
The likely decision of DoPT, which is nodal authority for anti-corruption matters, is based on the recommendations of a select committee of Rajya Sabha that had examined a bill seeking to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
“No police officer shall conduct any inquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant under this Act, where the alleged offence is relatable to any recommendation made or decision taken by such public servant in discharge of his official functions or duties, without the previous approval,” the panel’s report said.
The permission will be given by the appropriate governments — Centre and the states — for a serving and retired employee, as per the recent report of the committee on the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013. However, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), while deposing before the committee, had objected to this provision.
The CBI opposed the provisions as it may cause unnecessary delay in investigation, it had said. Public sector undertakings, banks and state governments supported that competent authority should be the sanctioning authority for investigation and prosecution, while, members of civil society have supported the Lokpal or Lokayukta to be the sanctioning authority, the report had said.
Sources said after the government accepts the recommendations and notify it then it will be mandatory for any probe agency to take prior permission of the competent authority before conducting any investigation against retired and serving public servants — from peon to secretary.
A delegation of IAS officers had recently met Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh and demanded that honest civil servants need to be protected so that they do not shy away from taking administrative decisions.