HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad High Court has held that the action of State government permitting the Anti-Corruption Bureau to file a chargesheet without there being any new material available before it against an accused employee who retired from service on attaining age of superannuation, as highly unreasonable and preposterous and cannot stand for judicial scrutiny.
“Mere allegation and accusation of corruption cripples the morale of an individual and undoubtedly undermines the reputation in the society. Unless the government comes to a conclusion that there is a substantial material to launch prosecution, the permission for prosecution cannot be accorded in a routine, unreasonable and arbitrary manner”, the Court observed.
Justice A V Sesha Sai was making these observations in a writ petition filed by a retired employee challenging the memo issued by the state government permitting the ACB to file a chargesheet against him in the court of law, and with a plea for quashment of the case proceedings pending before the Court of First Additional Special Judge for SPE and ACB cases.
As for the case details, the petitioner employee who joined the state police department as a sub-inspector and got promotion as inspector and then DSP. The ACB registered a case against him (A1) and another (A2) under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. On the representation made by the petitioner requesting to drop the proceedings and on receipt of report of the director general of ACB, Hyderabad, the state government passed orders refusing sanction for prosecution while ordering to place the matter before the tribunal for disciplinary proceedings for regular inquiry into the allegations of corruption.
After few months, the employee retired from service on attaining the age of superannuation. Thereafter, based on a letter of the DG of ACB, the state government, vide a memo, permitted the director of ACB to file a chargesheet in the court. Accordingly, the ACB filed the chargesheet before the Special Court. Aggrieved with this decision, the retired employee moved the High Court for relief. The Court granted interim stay and directed the respondent authorities to file counter-affidavit and reply affidavit by the petitioner.
The petitioner’s counsel contended that the very action of granting permission by the state government and the prosecution against the petitioner is a patent abuse of process of law and highly illegal, arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Having refused to accord permission to prosecute the petitioner earlier, it is absolutely not open for the state government to permit the ACB to file chargesheet after superannuation of the petitioner without there being any new material available before the government. The government ought not to have passed the impugned memo in the absence of availability of fresh material. Further, dropping of proceedings against the other accused (A2) while continuing the prosecution against the petitioner (A1) is discriminatory, the counsel argued while relying on the judgment of Supreme Court in the case of Chittaranjan Das vs State of Orissa, 2012.
On the contrary, the counsels appearing for the state government and ACB vehemently submitted that there is no illegality nor there is any procedural infirmity in the impugned action and in the absence of the same, the present petition is not maintainable, and that the petitioner is not entitled for any relief from the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. The government granted permission to file a chargesheet against the petitioner after duly taking into consideration the report of the DG of ACB. The contention that the government had earlier refused to grant sanction, cannot be sustained. In view of grave allegations against the petitioner, the petitioner is liable for regular prosecution before the Special Court and there are no circumstances warranting any indulgence of the High Court to interdict the prosecution. The judgment of the Apex Court relied upon by the petitioner’s counsel has no relevance to the present case, the counsels contended.
After perusing the material on record and hearing both the sides, Justice Sesha Sai pointed out that the state government had first refused sanction for prosecution of the petitioner and decided to refer the matter to the Tribunal for Disciplinary Proceedings, and also asked the Tribunal to hold inquiry as per the rules. Thereafter, the government, vide impugned memo, permitted the ACB to file a chargesheet. The judge allowed the petition by setting aside memo issued by govt and quashing the proceedings pending before Special Court.