Commences hearing on petition challenging the constitutional validity of the law which makes it mandatory for CBI to take approval of competent authority to probe senior bureaucrats

New Delhi : Seventeen years after the first plea was made, the Supreme Court on Tuesday commenced the hearing to examine the constitutional validity of the law which makes it mandatory for CBI to take approval of competent authority to probe senior bureaucrats in corruption cases.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by justice R M Lodha will decide the validity of section 6-A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, which protects senior bureacrats from being directly probed by the CBI. The first petition in this regard was filed in 1997 by BJP leader Subramanina Swamy and later in 2004 by an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL). They contended that movement of criminal law gets affected due to the presence of section 6-A in the statute which was recently manifested in the 2G spectrum and coal blocks allocation scams.
Senior advocate Anil Divan, who is assisting the court as amicus curaie, said when the investigation reaches to the officer of joint secretary and above level, it suddenly comes to a halt for the want of approval under section 6-A and ultimately frustrates the entire probe.
“The concept of independent, unhampered, unbiased, efficient and quick investigation of culpable high level bureaucrats is wholly subverted by the impugned provisions. This paralyses the effort to root out high level corruption and undermines the rule of law,” he said. “The impugned provisions offer an impregnable shield (except when there is a court monitored investigation) to the criminal-bureaucratic-political nexus.
If the CBI is not even allowed to verify complaints by preliminary enquiry how can the case move forward? Will it not be thwarted and delayed at the very commencement,” he submitted before a bench, also comprising justices A K Patnaik, S J Mukhopadhaya, Dipak Misra and F M I Kalifulla.
Divan, along with advocate Ranvir Singh, said section 6A presents an illegal impediment to this insulation and undermines the independence of CBI to hold a PE (Preliminary Enquiry) or Regular Case (RC) and investigation.
“The impugned provisions create a privileged class and thereby subvert the normal investigative process and violate the fundamental rights under Article 14 of every Indian citizen,” they said.

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