In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a provision protecting senior bureaucrats from facing inquiry in corruption cases. The decision paves the way for the CBI to launch probes against several senior officers under its scanner without taking prior approval from the government.
“Every person accused of committing the same offence is to be dealt with in the same manner in accordance with law, which is equal in its application to everyone,” said a constitution bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha, as it struck down section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act calling it “unconstitutional”.
The section had made it mandatory for prosecuting agencies, like the CBI, to get prior approval of the government before probing senior bureaucrats, joint secretary-level or above, or even calling them in for questioning.
Welcoming the SC ruling, CBI director Ranjit Sinha said the decision will go a long way in finalising several cases pending before the agency. “Due diligence will be done before questioning any senior officer. This decision will be taken only at an officer of the rank of Joint Director or above in CBI.”
In the past, prosecuting agencies faced several hurdles in cases, including Coalgate, as state governments and ministries sat over requests to probe senior bureaucrats facing corruption charges.
A CBI source said the agency is now likely to probe 11 senior officers, including a former Air India chairman who allegedly flew his relatives irregularly, a former I-T chief and an IPS officer. The list also includes two former senior officials of public-sector trading company MMTC Limited.
With inputs from Abhishek Sharan