The Maharashtra government on Thursday informed the Bombay high court that it is mandatory for the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) to get its sanction before initiating an open inquiry against any of its officials or politicians.
The state filed an affidavit to highlight the circular issued by the general administration department (GAD) that says the chief minister needs to authorise any open inquiry against all public servants.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice GS Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation )PIL) filed by activist Ankur Patil that challenges the March 1981 circular.
The PIL states that the circular is similar to section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (which says the Central Bureau of Investigation needs permission to conduct a probe against senior bureaucrats) and cannot be continued as the Supreme Court had, in May 2014, invalidated the same.
The Supreme Court had, on May 6 last year, laid down a judgment that every public servant, who is facing allegations of corruption or an inquiry for corrupt offences, shall be treated equally and similarly under law.
Patil has approached the high court after noticing that the ACB is still following the circular that shields corrupt public servants.
Advocate Sandesh Sawant, who is representing the petitioner, said: “Thousands of cases are pending even though complaints have been received against government employees, no action has to be taken yet.”
The government affidavit further said in cases of allegations of corruption against group A officers, an inquiry should be conducted only after the director of ACB has personally scrutinised the case to see there is enough material to justify an open inquiry, after which he should get the CM nod.
The next hearing of the case has been scheduled on July 14.