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Prior nod not must in graft probe: SC

New Delhi, Dec. 17: The Centre’s prior sanction is not necessary in corruption investigations ordered or monitored by the Supreme Court or high courts, the apex court ruled today.

A three-judge bench rejected the Centre’s arguments that since 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE) — which governs the CBI’s functioning — mandates prior sanction, no prosecution can be launched against officials even in court-steered cases.

“The courts are repository of the faith of the people as well as protector of the rights of the individual and, therefore, no prior approval of the central government under Section 6A is necessary,” Justices R.M. Lodha, Madan B. Lokur and Kurien Joseph said.

The order came in the context of the CBI’s coal block allocation probe that had prompted the apex court earlier this year to term the agency a “caged parrot” over alleged interference by ministers and top officials.

The Centre had argued that prior sanction was a must in court-monitored cases. The CBI had said it wasn’t. Today, the bench said agency officers would not harass officials on flimsy grounds as they would know the judiciary was seized of the matter.

“The monitoring of inquiries by the court is intended to ensure that proper progress takes place without directing or channelling the mode or manner of investigation. The whole idea is to retain public confidence in the impartial inquiry/investigation,” the bench said.