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Supreme court sets the people above the government

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The Supreme court ruled today that the government is not above the people. IE reports on the two major points in the ruling:

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”.

Deccan Herald added two important points:

Having urged the parliament to consider statutory provisions to make sanction time bound, the bench of Justice G.S.Singhvi and Justice Ganguly said: “At the same time, we deem it proper to observe that in future every competent authority shall take appropriate action on the representation made by a citizen for sanction of the prosecution of a public servant strictly in accordance with the direction” contained in Vineet Narain case and the guidelines framed by the Central Vigilance Commission.

In Vineet Narain case, the apex court gave several directions which included that the time limit of three months for grant of sanction for prosecution must be strictly adhered to.

Having suggested the time frame, Justice Ganguly said that he was the opinion that the questions raised and argued in this case are of considerable constitutional and legal importance, and wished to “add my own reasoning on the same”.

“Today, corruption in our country not only poses a grave danger to the concept of constitutional governance, it also threatens the very foundation of Indian democracy and the rule of law. The magnitude of corruption in our public life is incompatible with the concept of a socialist, secular democratic republic.

“It cannot be disputed that where corruption begins, all rights end. Corruption devalues human rights, chokes development and undermines justice, liberty, equality, fraternity which are the core values in our preambular vision.”

The Hindu recorded the Home Minister’s reaction:

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s observation on the grant of sanction for the prosecution of public servants. The Court had explained to an extent the “legal position” for granting the sanction.

“This does not concern the Ministry of Home Affairs directly. Since it arises out of a criminal law, I will answer it. I have not read the judgment, but what I have gathered is the court has explained the legal position on sanction and has laid down guidelines to the competent authorities for grant of sanction,” Mr. Chidambaram told journalists at his monthly press conference.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

January 31, 2012 at 5:56 pm

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