CBI waiting for prosecution sanction in 272 cases, says CVC annual report | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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CBI waiting for prosecution sanction in 272 cases, says CVC annual report

Aug 23, 2023 07:05 PM IST

99 requests from CBI for permission to start investigations under section 17A – prior approval to investigate a government servant - were also pending with government offices concerned

NEW DELHI: There are 272 requests of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking sanction for prosecution against public servants pending with various central ministries, departments, state governments and Union territory administrations for at least three months, according to the 2022 annual report of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) released last week.

The CBI sent 525 requests in 209 corruption cases to various departments and states/UTs, out of which 272, related to 80 cases, were pending for more than three months (HT File Photo)
The CBI sent 525 requests in 209 corruption cases to various departments and states/UTs, out of which 272, related to 80 cases, were pending for more than three months (HT File Photo)

The data is the status as of December 2022 and may have changed since.

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The maximum number of requests, 87, were pending with the department of financial services (DFS), which comes under Union finance ministry. Several states including Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Maharashtra, the UT of Jammu & Kashmir, and even the Lok Sabha Secretariat have not responded to CBI’s requests in some cases.

The data reveals that 41 and 25 requests under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, mandatory for filing charge sheets, were sent to Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh, respectively, but all of them are pending. The ministries at the Centre which have not responded include: railways, science and technology, law and justice, education, road transport and highways, and petroleum and natural gas.

Overall, the premier agency had sent 525 requests in 209 corruption cases to various departments and states/UTs, out of which 272, related to 80 cases, were pending for more than three months (in 80 cases).

DFS has granted sanction for prosecution in the case of 80 requests. Officials at the agency said the high number of requests to DFS is due to a lot of banking fraud cases being taken up in the last few years.

Besides sanction for prosecution under section 19 of the PC act, 99 requests from the agency under section 17A – prior approval to investigate a government servant - were also pending with government offices concerned for at least three months, data from the CVC annual report 2022 showed.

The law says the administrative ministries or departments concerned must convey their decision on section 19 and 17A requests within three months. An extension of a month is granted in cases where consultation is required from the attorney general (A-G) or any law officer in the office of A-G.

Section 17A was inserted in the Prevention of Corruption Act by the Centre in July 2018 through an amendment, making it mandatory for police or CBI to seek prior approval for conducting any “enquiry” or “inquiry” or “investigation” into any corruption-related offences.

Officers in CBI who did not want to be named said “this tendency of keeping prosecution sanction requests or 17A references pending hinders our work as the investigations are delayed, and as a result trials in courts are held up”.

“This process needs to be fast-tracked,” said an officer who asked not to be named.

N R Wassan, former CBI joint director, said, “It is total apathy because when there is a time limit, they must either give prosecution sanction or deny it with written reasons.”

According to the CVC report, CBI registered 628 corruption cases in 2022 against 713 public servants out of which 228 were gazetted officers. Trial was pending in various courts across the country in at least 6,841 cases.

“Normally, it is required of CBI to complete investigation within one year of registration of case. Completion of investigation would imply filing of charge sheet in courts wherever warranted, after receipt of sanction from the competent authority. The commission has observed some delays in completing investigation in certain cases,” the report said.

This happens due to “excessive work”, “inadequate manpower”, delay in receiving replies to the Letter Rogatories (LRs) sent to other countries, slow verification of documents, time taken in scrutiny of voluminous records, especially in bank frauds, time taken in locating witnesses, and delay in prosecution sanction or supply of records by competent authorities, the report added.

The federal agency’s action in corruption cases has also been affected by the withdrawal of general consent under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) act by at least 10 state governments, which means it cannot suo motu operate in these jurisdictions and must send a request every time to the state to initiate a corruption probe.

States that have withdrawn the general consent for CBI since 2018 include West Bengal, Telangana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Kerala, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu. All these states are governed by parties opposed to the BJP and have alleged that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has weaponised agencies such as CBI and the Enforcement Directorate against political opponents.

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