A Mumbai activist has approached the Bombay high court seeking to quash a circular, issued by the general administration department, requiring the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) to seek the state’s approval before starting any inquiry against an IAS/IPS officer or a minister.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice MS Sonak has posted the public interest litigation filed by Ankur Patil for hearing on November 13.
The 33-year-old Mulund resident contended the circular issued by the department in March 1981 was similar to section 6-A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, and cannot be continued as the Supreme Court had, in May 2014, invalidated section 6-A of the Act.
According to the PIL, section 6-A of the DPSE Act states the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will not conduct any inquiries into allegations against an officer of the level of joint secretary or above, without previous approval of the Centre.
However, after politician Subramanian Swamy had challenged validity of the section, the apex court held the legal provision was invalid. The SC had observed that every public servant, against whom there is reasonable suspicion of commission of a crime, has to be treated equally under the law.
“The decision-making power does not segregate corrupt officials into two classes,” the Apex Court had held. “Any distinction made between them on the basis of their status or position in service for the purpose of inquiry/investigation is nothing but an artificial one, and offends Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”
In his petition, Patil stated after the verdict of the apex court, he wrote to the chief minister and the department in July 2014, and requested them to withdraw the circular, as it was contrary to the law laid down by the SC.
Eventually, he approached the HC after noticing that his letter was not taken into cognisance, and the anti-corruption bureau was still following the circular.