The issue of delays by competent authorities in granting sanction for prosecution against public servants facing allegations of corruption has undergone a complete change in the last 14 months during which the Supreme Court kept the judgment reserved on the issue.
The country’s top court had on November 24, 2010 reserved its verdict on a petition filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy in which he had alleged that the Prime Minister’s office took 16 months to reply to his application seeking sanction to prosecute telecom minister A Raja for his alleged role in the 2G spectrum scam.
Swamy had sought framing of guidelines on granting prosecution sanction by competent authorities.
Between November 2010 and Tuesday, two important developments took place which have seen significant forward movement on the issue. First, a nine-member Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, has already recommended that “it will be mandatory for competent authorities to take a decision within three months on requests by investigating agencies seeking prosecution sanction.”
The GoM, in its first report submitted to the Prime Minister in September last, had also recommended that “in the event that the competent authority refuses permission for sanction to prosecute, it will have to submit its order including the reasons for refusal.” The PMO accepted the report and follow-up action had been initiated.
The second development was the agitation for a Lokpal bill by Anna Hazare. This led to a nationwide debate for a strong bill to curb corruption.
The Lokpal bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha first in August and then after incorporating some of the parliamentary panel’s recommendations in December. In both versions, the prosecution sanction has been scrapped.