The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that the approval of the Central Government was not necessary under Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (which governs the Central Bureau of Information) for investigation and prosecution of senior officials where inquiry/investigation into the crime under the Prevention of Corruption Act was being monitored by the Court.
Giving this ruling, a three-Judge bench of Justices R.M. Lodha, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph said, “This position holds good in cases which are directed by the Court to be registered and the inquiry/investigation thereon is actually being monitored by this Court.” Justice Lokur gave concurrent but different reasons.
Passing orders in the petitions filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma and others in the coal block allocation scam case, the Bench said, “The fact that the investigation is monitored by the Constitutional court is itself an assurance that investigation/inquiry by the CBI is not actuated with ulterior motive to harass any public servant and the investigating agency performs its duties and discharges its responsibility of fair and impartial investigation uninfluenced by extraneous considerations.”
Writing the judgment, Justice Lodha said, “A proper investigation into crime is one of the essentials of the criminal justice system and an integral facet of rule of law. The investigation by the police under the Cr.P.C. has to be fair, impartial and uninfluenced by external influences. Where investigation into crime is handled by the CBI under the DSPE Act, the same principles apply and CBI as an investigating agency is supposed to discharge its responsibility with competence, promptness, fairness and uninfluenced and unhindered by external influences.
“The abuse of public office for private gain has grown in scope and scale and hit the nation badly. Corruption reduces revenue; it slows down economic activity and holds back economic growth. The biggest loss that may occur to the nation due to corruption is loss of confidence in the democracy and weakening of rule of law. In recent times, there has been concern over the need to ensure that the corridors of power remain untainted by corruption or nepotism and that there is optimum utilization of resources and funds for their intended purposes.
“It is alleged that coal blocks for the subject period have been allocated for extraneous considerations by unknown public servants in connivance with businessmen, industrialists and middlemen. The allocation of coal blocks is alleged to suffer from favouritism, nepotism and pick and choose.
The Comptroller and Auditor General [CAG] in its Performance Audit on allocation of coal blocks and augmentation of coal production has estimated loss to the public exchequer to the tune of about Rs.1.86 lakh crore as on 31.03.2011 for Open-cast mines/Open-cast reserves of Mixed mines while pointing out inadequacies and shortcoming in the allocation.
Our reference to the CAG report, we clarify, does not mean that we have expressed any opinion about its correctness or otherwise. The Court is of the view that a fair, proper and full investigation by the CBI into every accusation by the CBI in respect of allocation of coal blocks shall help in retaining public confidence in the conduct of inquiry/investigation.
Moreover, the Court-monitoring in a matter of huge magnitude such as this shall help in moving the machinery of inquiry/investigation at appropriate pace and its conclusion with utmost expedition without fear or favour.”