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No need for sanction in graft cases: SC

New Delhi, April 14
In yet another attempt to curb rampant corruption among public servants, the Supreme Court has ruled that in corruption cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (PCA), sanction is of automatic nature and factual aspects are of little or no consequence.

A bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia, while disposing of an appeal by Paul Varghese against the judgement of the Kerala High Court taking the view that section 319 of the CrPC does not override the provision of section 19 of the PCA, noted that “section 197 of the code and section 19 of the Act operate in conceptually different fields. In cases covered under the PCA in respect of public servants, the sanction is of automatic nature and thus factual aspects are of little or no consequence.

“Conversely, in a case relatable to section 197 of the code, the substratum and basic features of the case have to be considered to find out whether the alleged act has any nexus to the discharge of duties. Position is not so in case of section 19 of the Act.”

The inquiry commissioner and special judge, Trichoor, had summoned respondent No. 2 in the present appeal (name not given in the judgement) to stand trial in a corruption case vide order dated March 22, 1999, after the involvement of two accused was found in a corruption case.

One of the two accused expired during the pendency of the appeal.

Respondent No. 2 herein was the other accused and he challenged the trial court order in the high court holding that the trial court strongly held that provisions of section 319 of the CrPC must get preference over section 19 of the PCA.

The apex court agreed with the view of the high court, but it considered the aspect of necessity of sanction in a corruption case.

The apex court, referring to its judgement in cases related to Parkash Singh Badal and Lalu Prasad versus the state of Bihar held that corruption had no nexus with the discharge of official duty by a public servant and hence, no sanction was necessary for prosecuting a public servant under the PCA.

Justice Pasayat, writing judgement for the bench on April 10, also agreed with the view of the counsel for the appellant that absence of sanction under sub-sections 3 and 4 of section 19 of the PCA did not result in failure of justice. — UNI

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