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Vivek Batra v. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (18 Oct 2016)

Sanction cannot be held invalid only for reason that in administrative notings different authorities have opined differently



Appellant is an officer of cadre of Indian Revenue Service ("IRS"), who entered into service through 1992 batch. An FIR was registered by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) (Respondent No. 4) in respect of disproportionate assets to known sources of Appellant. Instant appeal is against judgment, passed by High Court, whereby Petition challenging sanction 9th October, 2012 for prosecution of Appellant under Section 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 is dismissed. Counsel appearing on behalf of Appellant submitted that there was categorical opinion of the Finance Department that the evidence laid before it was not sufficient to grant sanction for prosecution.

Sanction cannot be held invalid only for the reason that in the administrative notings different authorities have opined differently before the competent authority took the decision in the matter. It is not a case where the Finance Minister was not the competent authority to grant the sanction. Under Section 19 of Act, it is required that for taking the cognizance of an offence, punishable under Sections 7, 10, 11, 13 and 15 of the Act committed by the public servant, is necessary by the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, and in the case of a public servant, who is neither employed in connection with affairs of the Union or the State, from the authority competent to remove him. Section 19(2) of the Act provides that where for any reason whatsoever any doubt arises as to whether the previous sanction, as required under Sub-section (1) should be given by the Central Government or the State Government or any authority, such sanction shall be given by that Government or authority which could have been competent to remove the public servant from his office at the time when the offence was alleged to have been committed.

In view of copy of note-sheets relating to sanction in question placed, it is evident that there had been proper application of mind on part of competent authority before sanction was accorded. Opinion of CVC, which was reaffirmed and ultimately prevailed in according the sanction, cannot be said to be irrelevant for the reason that Clause (g) of Section 8 of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 provides that it is one of the functions of the CVC to tender advice to the Central Government on such matters as may be referred to it by the Government. Supreme Court finds no reason to interfere with impugned order passed by High Court dismissing the writ petition.

Relevant : Section 19 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, Jasbir Singh Chhabra and Ors. v. State of Punjab and Ors. : (2010) 4 SCC 192; MANU/SC/0152/2010 ; Sethi Auto Service Station and Anr. v. Delhi Development Authority and Ors. (2009) 1 SCC 180; MANU/SC/8127/2008


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