NEW DELHI: New Delhi: In a major embarrassment for the Government in the 2G scam, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that any decision concerning whether a private citizen had permission to prosecute a public servant, must be taken within four months.
The Prime Minister's Office had allegedly been delaying a decision on Janata Party President Dr Subramanian Swamy's petition seeking permission from it to prosecute former telecom minister A Raja in the scam.
The SC on Tuesday ruled that all public authorities will have to decide on sanctions to prosecute public servants, if asked, within a 4-months time period.
Giving a clean chit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the issue, the court hauled up his advisers in the PMO and the Law Ministry for not giving the right advice to him.
"By the very nature of the office held by the PM, he is not expected to personally look into minute details of each and every case placed before him and he has to depend on his advisers and officers... Unfortunately those expected to give proper advice to the PM, failed to do so," the court said.
Subramanian Swamy had approached the apex court asking it to set guidelines for a timeframe after the PMO allegedly delayed responding to his request for permission to prosecute A Raja in the 2G case.
Reacting to the SC order, the PMO issued a release, saying, "We welcome the fact that both the learned judges have completely vindicated the Prime Minister whilst appreciating the onerous duties of his office. The Government is examining their directions regarding the manner in which applications are to be dealt with."
Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy defended the Office saying that there was no guideline at the time of the petition.
Swamy, however, reacted saying the Government could not fool around anymore.
"The government cannot fool around anymore. The PM has to learn law. He cannot send it to his officers and his officers tell him any bunkum... He cannot just swallow it. This is what has happened in this case. He sent it to his officers who said you don't have to reply to Swamy. It's an ignorant government, it's a corrupt government, and therefore what the SC has done is tied their hands to such a point that they cannot delay on corruption cases."
V Narayanasamy, however, retorted, saying, "It is not a setback for the Government. As far as our Government is concerned, our honourable PM... We took the pro-active step... The Lokpal Bill that has been introduced by us in the LS and has been passed... Under Section 23 of the Act… Whenever any complaint is filed before the Lokpal, no sanction for prosecution is required... either under the Prevention Of Corruption Act or under the Delhi Police Act."
Meanwhile, Home Minister P Chidambaram said that he had not yet read the judgment but that he was aware of the guidelines laid down by the SC.
"I have not read the judgment but I gather court has laid down guidelines... This is a welcome decision... All sanctioning authorities would now have to follow SC guidelines," he said.
He added, "But I am told because chargesheet has already been filed, the court didn't issue writ of mandamus as was prayed for."
Main Opposition BJP did not waste one moment in capitalising on the issue.
BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad said, "This judgment is a serious indictment of the working of the PM. The PM, Dr Manmohan Singh, you have suffered another embarrassment at the hands of the SC after the CVC Thomas case. Would you draw any lessons? The BJP would like to ask the PM, in the light of this verdict, how do you react to the role of the then finance minister and current Home Minister P Chidambaram, as far as the evidence relating to his involvement is concerned?"
The focus now shifts to what will happen to P Chidambaram in the case. The court is set to pronounce its verdict on whether Chidambaram should be made a co-accused in the 2G scam for alleged lapses.
The SC has ruled that all public authorities will have to decide on sanctions to prosecute public servants, if asked, within 4 months.