Pulling up PMO for sitting on Raja plea, Supreme Court calls for faster sanction
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Noting that a private citizen's fight to prosecute a public servant for corruption should not transform into an endless wait for government sanction, the Supreme Court today said the government should either decide on a sanction request within four months or it should be considered as given.
Framing guidelines for the Parliament to enact, Justice A K Ganguly, in his separate judgment, went a step further than his companion judge, Justice G S Singhvi, with his call for the amendment of Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Section 19 mandates that a proposal to prosecute a public servant for corruption would require prior sanction from the public authority concerned. It, however, does not give a deadline by which the government should decide on a sanction request.
Allowing Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy's petition against the Delhi High Court judgement refusing to direct the Prime Minister on his plea for prosecution of Raja, the apex court upheld the right of a private citizen to seek sanction for prosecution of a public servant for corruption.
Dismissing the Attorney General's submissions that Swamy, as a private citizen, did not have the "locus standi" to seek sanction for Raja's prosecution, Justice Singhvi said that "anyone can set or put the criminal law in motion provided it is not contra-indicated by a statutory provision".
Justice Ganguly pointed to how the guideline in the Vineet Narain case judgment of 1998 for a three-month time-limit to decide on a sanction request has so far been ignored. This trend to delay the decision from sanctioning authorities, Justice Ganguly said, tires effort to put the corrupt on the dock.
In his judgment, Justice Ganguly reminded lawmakers of the 1998 verdict and reiterated that government should decide all sanction requests — both from a private citizens as well as prosecution agencies — inside of three months. The sanctioning authority, in case any consultations with law officers are required, can extend the time limit up to another month.
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