BALAKRISHNAN RAVI MENON Vs. UNION OF INDIA
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
BALAKRISHNAN RAVI MENON
UNION OF INDIA
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(1.)In our view, the High Court rightly relied upon the decision rendered by the Constitution Bench of this Court in R.S. Nayak V/s. A.R. Antulay, 1984 2 SCC 183 in arriving at the conclusion that the sanction u/s. 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (hereinafter referred to as "the PC Act") was not required to be obtained in the facts of the present case.
(2.)Facts of the case are that the petitioner was appointed on 8.11.1994 as Chairman and Managing Director of Goa Shipyard Ltd., a Central Government undertaking. Thereafter on 12.02.1999, a raid was conducted by CBI on the premises of the petitioner after registering a case against him. On 7.11.1999, the petitioner retired as Chairman and Managing Director of Goa Shipyard Ltd. Thereafter on 8.03.2000, he was appointed as Chairman and Managing Director of Transformers and Electricals Ltd. by the State of Kerala. While he was functioning as such, on 20.11.2000, a charge-sheet was submitted before the Special Judge, South Goa at Margoa on the basis of the FIR which was lodged on 5.02.1999. It was contended by the petitioner that without obtaining the previous sanction, prosecution under the PC Act cannot be launched against him. That contention was rejected by the trial court as well as the High Court by relying upon the decision in Antulay case. Hence, this petition.
(3.)Learned counsel for the petitioner vehemently submitted that the issue raised in this petition requires consideration because the finding given in Antulay case is obiter. In the said case, this Court specifically dealt with similar contention and observed thus:
"24. Now if the public servant holds two offices and he is accused of having abused one and from which he is removed but continues to hold the other which is neither alleged to have been used (sic misused) nor abused, is a sanction of the authority competent to remove him from the office which is neither alleged or shown to have been abused or misused necessary The submission is that if the harassment of the public servant by a frivolous prosecution and criminal waste of his time in law courts keeping him away from discharging public duty, are the objects underlying Sec. 6, the same would be defeated if it is held that the sanction of the latter authority is not necessary. The submission does not commend to us. We fail to see how the competent authority entitled to remove the public servant from an office which is neither alleged to have been used (sic misused) or abused would be able to decide whether the prosecution is frivolous or tendentious. An illustration was posed to the learned counsel that a minister who is indisputably a public servant greased his palms by abusing his office as minister, and then ceased to hold the office before the court was called upon to take cognizance of the offence against him and therefore, sanction as contemplated by Sec. 6 would not be necessary; but if after committing the offence and before the date of taking of cognizance of the offence, he was elected as a Municipal President in which capacity he was a public servant under the relevant municipal law, and was holding that office on the date on which court proceeded to take cognizance of the offence committed by him as a minister, would a sanction be necessary and that too of that authority competent to remove him from the office of the Municipal President. The answer was in affirmative. But the very illustration would show that such cannot be the law. Such an interpretation of Sec. 6 would render it as a shield to an unscrupulous public servant. Someone interested in protecting may shift him from one office of public servant to another and thereby defeat the process of law. One can legitimately envisage a situation wherein a person may hold a dozen different offices, each one clothing him with the status of a public servant u/s. 21 of the Indian Penal Code and even if he has abused only one office for which either there is a valid sanction to prosecute him or he has ceased to hold that office by the time court was called upon to take cognizance, yet on this assumption, sanction of 11 different competent authorities each of which was entitled to remove him from 11 different public offices would be necessary before the court can take cognizance of the offence committed by such public servant, while abusing one office which he may have ceased to hold. Such an interpretation is contrary to all canons of construction and leads to an absurd end product which of necessity must be avoided. Legislation must at all costs be interpreted in such a way that it would not operate as a rogue s charter."
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