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It gets tough for tainted
SC says sanction not needed to prosecute CMs, ministers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
In a verdict having a far reaching import for the political fraternity, the Supreme Court today ruled that prior sanction was not required for the prosecution of public servants, including chief ministers and ministers in corruption cases.

The apex court dismissed petitions filed by Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and former Punjab Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal challenging the grant of sanction to prosecute them in corruption cases.

On a petition by former Kerala Chief Minister K. Karunakaran pertaining to the Palmoline oil import case, the court referred the matter to the High Court concerned and asked the petitioner to place the entire material relating to mala fide on the part of the state before that court. The apex court directed the High Court to decide the matter within three months.

“There is no scope for taking a different view in the case of Mr Karunakaran,” the Bench comprising Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice S.H. Kapadia observed. The Kerala Chief Secretary had filed an affidavit on November 24, 2005, stating that the state wanted to withdraw the case against Mr Karunakaran but the idea was discharged with the taking over of the Left Front government in the state.

The Bench found as “untenable” the plea of the petitioners that their trials under the Prevention of Corruption Act were vitiated for want of proper sanction.

The court held that “acts of omission and commission committed during the purported exercise of discharge of official duty under the collar of office cannot form part of the bona fide discharge of official duty by a public servant”.

The verdict that prior sanction was not required in corruption cases is a serious blow and might prove highly embarrassing for senior politicians.

Mr Badal is facing allegations of amassing assets to the tune of about Rs 3,500 crores during his reign as the Chief Minister of Punjab. Former ministers in the previous Badal government might also be affected by the ruling of the Supreme Court.

Mr Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi are facing corruption cases for their alleged involvement in the fodder scam case.

Mr Karunakaran is facing allegations of causing a loss of about Rs 2.8 crore to the state exchequer in the Palm oil import case.

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