In a move to undermine yet another Supreme Court verdict, the Centre has set the ball rolling to bar citizens from directly seeking prosecution sanction from the government against corrupt ministers and civil servants.
The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill restricts citizens from seeking sanction against corrupt public servants unless they file a complaint about the bribery charge in a court and then, get a direction from the judge to obtain sanction for prosecution.
The Bill – introduced in the Rajya Sabha last month – also requires authorities to give the accused public servant an opportunity to be heard before granting prosecution sanction.
“Once the court finds the complaint credible, directing the complainant to obtain sanction is not only a retrograde step but also harassing the complainant,” noted criminal lawyer RK Handoo said.
The law empowers the government to decide if a public servant should be prosecuted as a safeguard against harassment. “But in this case, that safeguard is built into the process when the court scrutinizes the complaint filed by private citizens,” Handoo said.
The amendments seek to reverse the January 2012 SC verdict delivered on an appeal by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. In this judgment, the court upheld the right of a private citizen to set the anti-bribery law in motion and ruled that the constitutional right of a citizen to file a complaint “should not be burdened with unreasonable fetters”.