The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved verdict on the validity of Section 6A that mandates the CBI to seek government sanction before proceeding against an officer of the rank of Joint Secretary or above on charges of corruption.
However, the Constitution Bench observed that “if it had to invalidate Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE) merely on the grounds of it being arbitrary, then the measure would be referred to a still larger Constitution Bench of seven judges as there were conflicting judgments on this count.”
The government has, in its stand so far before a Bench headed by Justice R M Lodha, had resisted the plea seeking to invalidate the Section, contending that it needed to protect its senior ranking officers who were involved in crucial decision-making process and they could not be exposed to undue harassment and exercise of police powers by the CBI. Seeking to demolish the government’s position, counsel Prashant Bhushan asked the court how could the government decide whether the sanction could be given or not when it is itself or its subordinate officers are under cloud.
He wondered why a citizen could not lodge a complaint against a government officer under the Prevention of Corruption Act as it violated the citizen’s rights and principles under Article 21. “Whether approval by the Lokpal and CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) would be sufficient in this matter,” the court inquired as Bhushan said why the government should decide and not the CVC or the Lokpal.
At the outset of the hearing, Additional Solicitor General L Nageshwar Rao appearing for Centre submitted provisions of the Act that gives protection to senior bureaucrats involved in policy decisions.