New SC ruling will not affect majority of cases handled by CBI
The Supreme Court’s directive to strike down the need for government’s prior sanction to probe bureaucrats in court-monitored cases may not make a world of a difference to the CBI’s ability to probe and prosecute corrupt government officers and politicians.india Updated: Dec 23, 2013 00:29 IST
The Supreme Court’s directive to strike down the need for government’s prior sanction to probe bureaucrats in court-monitored cases may not make a world of a difference to the CBI’s ability to probe and prosecute corrupt government officers and politicians.
According to reports compiled by the Central Vigilance Commission, the government has been sitting on the CBI’s requests to prosecute 29 officials for more than four months, the deadline that the Supreme Court had set in the 1997 Vineet Narain judgement.
The department of personnel and training – which is responsible for ensuring that this deadline is scrupulously met – is the biggest violator.
The department – that is mandated to ensure other departments take quick decisions on sanctions – has been unable to take a decision itself within the deadline in 6 of the 19 cases where sanctions have been delayed. These include cases against 10 IAS officers where the CBI has been made to wait for as long as 18 months.
Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), on the other hand, has taken more than 40 months instead of the deadline of 4 months. The Cabinet Secretariat at the top of the bureaucratic hierarchy – that is supposed to ensure that everyone else sticks to the rulebook – too has taken close to 8 months to take a decision in a case involving a field operative of the external intelligence agency, the Research & Analysis Wing.
A CBI official said the SC verdict would definitely cut procedural time in most court-monitored cases including the coal block allocation scam. “But there are very few such cases,” he said. “At the moment, there is no request pending with the government to initiate probe against any official of the rank of joint secretary or above in the coal scam,” said a senior CBI official requesting anonymity. Under section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, the CBI cannot initiate probe against joint secretaries and above with the prior sanction of department concerned. This provision had been challenged a few years ago in the SC but the court hasn’t pronounced a verdict so far.
“The question of overall legality to have prior sanction for moving against joint secretaries and above is pending before a constitutional bench of the SC. It high time the SC should strike down the requirement for all cases,” said a CBI investigator requesting anonymity.