COURT ON ITS OWN MOTION Vs. CENTRAL VIGILANCE COMMISSION
LAWS(DLH)-2007-4-260
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
Decided on April 30,2007

COURT ON ITS OWN MOTION Appellant
VERSUS
CENTRAL VIGILANCE COMMISSION Respondents

JUDGEMENT

- (1.) In Vineet Narain and Ors. v. Union of India and Anr. the Supreme Court inter alia directed that the Central Vigilance Commission shall be given a statutory status and that the Central Vigilance Commission shall be responsible for efficient functioning of the CBI. The Court stipulated a time limit of three months for grant of sanction for prosecution of public servants subject to the condition that in cases where the opinion of Attorney General or any other law officer in the Attorney General s office is required, an additional period of one month shall be available for grant of such sanction. Direction 15 issued by the Court in that regard reads as under: Time limit of three months for grant of sanction for prosecution must be strictly adhered to. However, additional time of one month may be allowed where consultation is required with the Attorney General (AG) or any other law officer in the AG s office.
(2.) The issue of the above direction notwithstanding a large number of cases seeking sanction for prosecution of public servants appear to have remained pending for a long time as was reported in a write up appearing in The Times of India issue dated 16.7.2005. Taking suo motto notice of the said state of affairs, a Division Bench of this Court comprising the Chief Justice and S.K. Kaul, J. issued notice to the Central Vigilance Commission to indicate as to how many cases were pending for sanction of prosecution and for what period of time. In response, the Central Vigilance Commission filed two affidavits one dated 17.11.2005 and the other dated 27.5.2006. A reading of the affidavit dated 17.11.2005 would indicate that a total of 174 cases including 92 cases relating to Group A Officers were pending for grant of sanction before the competent authority as on the date of the filing of the affidavit. This was indeed a large number of cases that had accumulated on account of various reasons including the absence of a clear cut procedure on the subject. Realising the need for a procedure ensuring early disposal of the cases, the Govt. issued an Office Memorandum dated 6.11.2006 a copy whereof has been placed on record by Department of Personnel and Training. The memorandum sets out in detail the procedure to be followed at the administrative level to ensure that unnecessary delay in the disposal of requests for grant of sanction received from the competent investigating agency is eliminated. The Memo reads as under: Subject : Guidelines for checking delay in grant of sanction for prosecution. The Hon ble Delhi High Court on its own motion has taken suomoto cognizance of a newspaper report, relating to long delays in grant of sanction for prosecution cases. The Hon ble Court has expressed its concern over the non-action on the part of competent authorities in granting sanction for prosecution, despite the fact that the Hon ble Supreme court in Vineet Narain v. Union of India had directed that time limit of three months for grant of sanction for prosecution must be strictly adhered to. However, additional time of one month may be allowed where consultation is required with the Attorney General (AG) or any Law Officer in the AG s office. 2. Delay in the disposal of sanction of prosecution cases is not in the interest of the Government. The Government is keen that innocent officers should not needlessly face harassment through prosecution while at the same time the really culpable and guilty officers should not escape prosecution on account of failure of the competent authority to appreciate properly the fact brought out in the CBI investigation reports. In order to ensure that cases for grant of sanction for prosecution are disposed of quickly, it has been decided that the following measures should be adopted with immediate effect: (i) In cases investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation against any public servant who is not removable from his office except with the sanction of the President, the CBI forwards its final report of investigation to the CVC and also simultaneously endorses a copy of the report to the administrative Ministry/Department concerned, the competent authority shall within three weeks formulate its tentative view regarding the action to be taken and seek the advice of the CVC in the matter. (ii) The CVC would tender its advice within ten days to the concerned administrative Ministry/Department, which shall finalize its view in the matter within a week and issue orders for sanction for prosecution accordingly. (iii) The concerned Ministry/Department shall refer the case to CVC for reconsideration only in exceptional cases when new facts come to light. The Committee of experts proposed to be set up by the CVC, with experts drawn from the civil services, public sector undertakings and banks shall examine the CBI s recommendation and the tentative view of the concerned Ministry/Department in greater detail and CVC would render appropriate advice to the competent authority based on the findings o f the expert committee, within a fortnight. (iv) If the CVC on reconsideration advices for grant of sanction, the concerned Ministry/Department will issue the requisite orders immediately. However, if the concerned Ministry/Department proposes not to accept the reconsidered advice of the CVC, the case will be referred to the Department of Personnel and Training for a final decision, as per the DOP and T O.M. No. /134/2/85-AVD-I dated 17.10.1986. (v) The responsibility of processing cases for sanction of prosecution within the time limits laid down shall continue to remain with the Administrative Ministries/Departments. All pending cases for sanction of prosecution would be reviewed every month by the concerned Secretary to ensure that a decision in a case for grant of sanction for prosecution is taken within the given time frame. (vi) The Central Vigilance Commission will call (as proposed by it) a meeting of Secretaries of such Departments, where there are delays in according sanction for prosecution, for a review from time to time and draw DOPandT s attention on such delays. (vii) In case a decision is not taken by the Administrative Ministry/Department within the time limit laid down, the concerned Secretary of the Department shall mandatorily forward a written explanation to the Cabinet Secretary for appropriate examination by the competent authority. (ix) All such delayed cases will be placed before a Committee to be chaired by Secretary (Personnel) and comprising the Secretary of the Administrative Ministry/Department, Law Secretary and Director, CBI for scrutiny and recommendation. A copy of the explanation furnished by the Secretary of the Administrative Ministry/Department shall also be placed before the Committee. The recommendations of the Committee shall be forwarded to the Cabinet Secretary for orders of the competent authority. (P.K. Tripathi)Director (Vigilance)
(3.) When the matter came up for consideration before this Court on 24.11.2006 it was pointed out that there were certain deficiencies in the procedure outlined in the Office Memorandum issued by the Government. The Court observed that the advice tendered by the CVC after consideration of the relevant material should also be considered by the competent authority while passing final orders in regard to the grant of sanction. The Department of Personnel and Training was accordingly directed to examine the said aspect and accordingly amend the Office Memorandum dated 6.11.2006. The Government have pursuant to the said observations issued yet another circular dated 20.12.2006 amending Para 2(iv) of circular dated 6.11.2006 to the following effect: 2. (iv) If the CVC on reconsideration advices for grant of sanction, the concerned Ministry/Department will issue the requisite orders immediate. However, if the concerned Ministry/Department proposes not to accept the reconsidered advice of the CVC, the case will be referred to the Department of Personnel and Training for a final decision, as per the DOPandT O.M. No. 134/2/85-AVD-I dated 17.10.1986. The Department of Personnel and training shall decide the case within three weeks and convey its decision to the concerned Ministry/Department.;


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