The provision that makes it mandatory for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to get a pre-trial sanction from the concerned authority before it can file a charge-sheet against an accused government employee has been misused by departments to protect their employees, said former senior policemen.
However, the recent government resolution (GR) that has set a three-month time limit for a competent authority - an official who has the power to appoint the accused - to decide on a sanction, along with a recent court order that asks authorities to take note of the GR, will help plug the delays in filing such cases, officials said.
Former police commissioner MN Singh said that section 19 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, specified the need for pre-trial sanction to ensure that the competent authority had the time to check that the investigation against the accused had been done properly and see whether there was sufficient evidence. "This is to protect public servants from vexatious prosecutions so that he is not unfairly targeted as that could come in the way of his duty, Singh said.
The recently set time limit for sanctions is a good thing. "It will ensure that there are no unnecessary delays," he said.
Former police commissioner Julio Ribeiro said section 19 has been misused by head of government departments. The recent order will help make a difference, he said.
Former IPS officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh said head of departments have blatantly misused section 19 to shield their staffers. "The GR is no protection against superiors shielding their men as they can choose not to give sanction," he said.
YC Pawar, former joint commissioner of police, said even the three-month time limit can be tampered with. "They could take years to send the written request for sanction," he said.
Raj Khilnani, director general of police, ACB, said: "The HC order will be handy in getting permission from the sanctioning authority, thereby plugging delays in bringing the guilty to book."