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'CBI can probe officers without nod'

Ashish Tripathi New Delhi: May 3, 2014 DHNS 3:26 IST
CBI can now proceed against top government officers - joint secretary and above - in corruption cases without seeking prior approval. PTI Image
The CBI can now proceed against top government officers — joint secretary and above — in corruption cases without seeking prior approval, the Supreme Court has ruled, while quashing legal protection granted to them.

A five-judge Constitution bench presided by Chief Justice R M Lodha struck down Section 6-A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which made the classification in public servants on the basis of their posts for proceeding against them under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

“The classification made in Section 6-A neither eliminates public mischief nor achieves some positive public good. On the other hand, it advances public mischief and protects the crime-doer. The provision thwarts an independent, unhampered, unbiased, efficient and fearless inquiry / investigation to track down corrupt public servants,” the bench said.
The provision under the DSPE Act required approval of the Central government to conduct an inquiry or investigation in the allegations of commission related to employees of the level of joint secretary and above.

The government tried to defend the legal provision by claiming it did not prohibit investigation against senior government servants.

It only provided a filter or pre-check so that the government can ensure senior officers at the decision-making level were not subjected to unwarranted harassment, they added.

“Can there be sound differentiation between corrupt public servants based on their status? Surely not, because irrespective of their status or position, corrupt public servants are corrupters of public power. The corrupt public servants, whether high or low, are birds of the same feather and must be confronted with the process of investigation and inquiry equally.”

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