BENGALURU: In a judgement likely to set a precedent in how government officials charged with corruption are prosecuted, Karnataka High Court ruled that the prosecution agency (in this case, the Lokayukta) is not responsible if there is any irregularity in according sanction by the government to prosecute. The HC said this while upholding the Lokayukta Court’s go-ahead for the framing of charges against an official.
Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar dismissed the Criminal Revision Petition filed by a Class-I officer of the state government. It was against the judgement of the Lokayukta Special Court, which had dismissed his plea in which he had sought to be discharged from the corruption case registered by the Lokayukta police under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He claimed that there were irregularities in the sanction given by the Energy Department for his prosecution. The accused, Theethira N Appachu, is working as Deputy Chief Electrical Inspector - Bengaluru South Circle and had, in his appeal, said the sanction was not given by the appropriate authority.
The court said: “It is an internal arrangement within the Government to decide whether the sanction should be accorded by the concerned Departmental Minister or the Cabinet of the Government in accordance with the Business Rules and the prosecution agency has nothing to do with it. If procedure prescribed under the Business Rules are not followed, it is an irregularity for which the prosecution agency is not responsible. Therefore, if the sanction order does not conform to the Business Rules, the accused cannot take advantage of it”.
The Criminal Revision Petition was filed by the accused as the Special Court in June dismissed his application seeking his discharge from the corruption case. The Special Court had held that the Government is the competent authority to accord sanction, as the accused is Class-I officer.
Contention of Lokayukta
Special Public Prosecutor for Lokayukta argued that there is no illegality in the sanction order.
Contention of accused
The accused contended that since the disciplinary authority is the government, it was the Cabinet that is the competent authority to accord sanction and not the Minister of the department concerned. He pleaded that the sanction order suffers from lack of competency.