No immunity to public servants in pre-2014 graft cases, Supreme Court rules

by The Technical Blogs


The Supreme Court declared on Monday that the provision under Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE), which made it mandatory for the CBI to obtain prior sanction from the government to prosecute government officials, is void from its inception.

This means that the CBI no longer needs to seek prior permission from the government to investigate or prosecute cases filed before 2014, the date when the provision was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

“It is crystal clear that once a law is declared unconstitutional, violative of Part-III of the Constitution, then it would be held to be void ab initio, stillborn, unenforceable, and non est in view of Article 13(2) of the Constitution and its interpretation by authoritative pronouncements. Thus, the declaration made by the Constitution Bench in the case of Subramanian Swamy (supra) will have retrospective operation. Section 6A of the DSPE Act is held to be not in force from the date of its insertion, i.e., 11.09.2003,” the court said in its order.

The verdict was delivered by a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishen Kaul and comprised of Justices Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S Oka, Vikram Nath, and JK Maheshwari.

In May 2014, the Supreme Court had declared Section 6A(1) of the Act invalid, which required the approval of the Centre to conduct any inquiry or investigation into any offense alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, where such an allegation relates to employees of the central government at the level of joint secretary and above.

The central issue before the top court now was whether the 2014 verdict in the Subramaniam Swamy case would have a retrospective effect.

This verdict is likely to have a significant impact on corruption and other criminal cases initiated against government servants between 2003 and 2018 when the provision of Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act came into force.

Published On:

Sep 12, 2023


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