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Don't harass officials fighting corruption, says Centre

Our Delhi Correspondent | November 21, 2008 14:12 IST

Government officials are often reluctant to sanction prosecution against corrupt colleagues, to avoid relentless harassment by the Central Bureau of Investigation and other agencies, as such cases drag on for years.

The sanctioning official is forced to make repeated trips to the court and prove the validity of the sanction. As most of these cases stretch over a number of years, these government officials are often subject to harassment even after their retirement.

The Centre has finally woken up to this undue harassment of the sanctioning officers -- which eventually impedes the drive against corrupt officials.

A government memorandum issued by the department of personnel quotes a series of Supreme Court judgments, which stress that the sanctioning officer's personal appearance in the court is unnecessary.

Based on these judgments, the memorandum advises officials that the sanction's validity can be proved without calling the concerned officer to the court 'if the sanction is accorded by the competent authority and it contains the facts constituting the offence and the grounds of satisfaction.'

The prosecution need not insist on the sanctioning official's presence, though the trial court would be within its powers under Section 311 of the CrPC to summon the concerned authority, if the defence challenges the sanction on grounds of the official's competence or non-application of mind, the memorandum clarifies.

Quoting the apex court rulings as a settled legal position, the memorandum directs all concerned authorities and investigating agencies not to routinely include the sanctioning authority in the list of prosecution witnesses.

Explaining the necessity for issuing this clarification, the memorandum says, 'It is observed that summons for recording of evidence for proving the sanction are usually received long after the concerned officer has vacated the post and, many a time, long after the said officer has retired from service.

'If at all necessary, the validity of sanction can be corroborated by producing the original sanction and by examining the person conversant with the signature of the sanctioning authority/signing/authenticated authority,' it clarifies.

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