Mandatory sanction for trial of corrupt officials challenged


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Monday admitted a public suit challenging a section of the Prevention of Corruption Act, under which the Uttar Pradesh governor this month refused to allow prosecution of Chief Minister Mayawati.

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A vacation bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and P.P. Naolekar issued notice to the central and state governments on the petition filed by Manzoor Ali Khan, which referred to Governor T.V. Rajeshwar's decision of June 5 not to accord sanction to prosecute Chief Minister Mayawati on charges of corruption in an ambitious project to build a shopping mall close to the Taj Mahal when she was in power the last time.

The governor's move was in accordance with Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act that requires grant of sanction by the competent authority to prosecute a public servant.

The petitioner said the governor had on political considerations refused to grant sanction to prosecute Mayawati and her cabinet colleague Naseemuddin Siddiqui, who was a co-accused in the case who was environment minister during her previous stint.

He said the object of the PC Act was to stem corruption. "The existence of Section 19 of the PC Act per se becomes unreasonable and runs counter to the object of the act since it could be a tool in the hands of the influential officials to defeat the object of the act," the petition said.

He contended that Section 19 also violates Article 14 of the constitution ('equality before law') as "it creates a classification which has no reasonable nexus with the object of the act."

Khan said that under the PC Act while a bribe giver, being a non-public servant, would be prosecuted, the person receiving bribe, being a public servant, could not be prosecuted for want of sanction.

Contending that Section 19 provides unguided and arbitrary power to the competent authority for granting or not granting sanction for prosecution of corrupt and dishonest politicians, he urged the court to declare this provision unconstitutional.