Let sanction shield protect all officers: AG Rohatgi

After SC set aside rule which protected Joint Secys and above from probes, he calls for ‘recast’.

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Updated: July 17, 2014 8:44 am
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has opined that the provision should be “recast” to extend the “protection to all officers... regardless of rank”. Source: Express Photo Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has opined that the provision should be “recast” to extend the “protection to all officers… regardless of rank”. (Source: Express Photo)

Two months after a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court set aside a provision under which it was mandatory for the CBI to seek prior sanction before investigating officers of the rank of joint secretary and above, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has opined that the provision should be “recast” to extend the “protection to all officers… regardless of rank”.

Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, made it mandatory for the CBI to take prior sanction of the government before initiating any investigation against an officer of the rank of joint secretary and above for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

On May 6, the Bench ruled that the provision was “discriminatory” and “impedes tracking down the corrupt senior bureaucrats”. It said Section 6A “suffers from the vice of classifying offenders differently for treatment thereunder for inquiry and investigation of offences, according to their status in life”. It held that the provision, “on the face of it, is not valid” as it “grants absolute protection to corrupt officers from prosecution”.

Now, in his opinion to the Department of Training and Personnel (DoPT), Rohatgi has said the provision should be “recast” to ensure that the “protection” applies to all government servants, “regardless of rank”.

“The underlying basis of this (court’s) reasoning was that all cognizable offences deserve to be investigated without any hindrance whatsoever,” the AG has noted.

Stating that the second reason for striking down the provision was absence of a “rational difference between officers of the rank of joint secretary and above and those below”, he has said, “Hence, Section 6A suffered from the vice of discrimination. In my view, this defect can easily be cured by extending the proposed protection to all officers of the central government, regardless of rank. After all, frivolous complaints can be made even against lower officials.”

Rohatgi has further suggested that sanction for prosection should be granted by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), and not by the government.

Stating that the CVC must grant sanction if “any preliminary enquiry reveals the commission of an offence,” Rohatgi has said the decision to accord or deny sanction must be taken in an “expeditious and time-bound manner, say 90 days from the time the proposal, complete in all particulars, is received by the CVC”.

Rohatgi has also opined that such sanction is not required in “trap cases”.

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  1. S
    SURYA PRAKASH
    Aug 8, 2016 at 5:10 am
    EVERY ROUGUE IS PROTECTED BY SOME WAY OR OTHER. IT IS NOT FAULT OF AG , HE HAS TO FURNISH THE VIEW OF BUROCRATS. AFTER ALL HE IS A GOVERNMENT APPOINTED , SERVANT. DONT EXPECT MUCH, FROM ANY SYSTEM,
    Reply
    1. G
      Girish
      Jul 17, 2014 at 7:24 am
      such a fabulous AG India has. he should be named the b ambador or guardian angel of corrupt government officers.
      Reply
      1. S
        SP
        Jul 17, 2014 at 5:58 am
        I think current Supreme Court judgment should stand. Again introducing sanctions by CVC, would mean that Goverment may appoint a partisan CVC.
        Reply
        1. S
          Sid
          Jul 17, 2014 at 3:50 am
          How are these politicians of the BJP different from the last bunch of crooks? Corruption must now be shielded so as to prevent 'frivolous complaints'? Do these 'rulers' of the land who we've voted to power on the hope of major change think we're fools?
          Reply
          1. S
            Subramanian Venkatraman
            Jul 17, 2014 at 4:49 am
            Officers at the level of Secretary in Government are almost the final authorities in taking decisions involving hundreds of crores of rupees because the Ministers hardly would know all the details and will be happy to sign on any paper put before them by Secretaries. In this process there is the liklihood of some mistakes and interested parties may ask for the Secretary's head which the concerned minister will happily oblige just to save his skin. Besides if the Secretary happens to be upright inconveniencing big shots, ficious charges are quite possible. So some protection should be given to such senior officers. If 'all' officers are to be given such protection, only Cl IV employees will get charged for wasting government funds running into multi crores.
            Reply
            1. C
              Citizen
              Jul 17, 2014 at 2:05 am
              To eradicate deep rooted corruption in the nation there should not be any protection to any one if there is a prima facie case. Let the frivolous complaints/complainants get the maximum punishment if they fail to prove their complaint as per law Jaihind
              Reply
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