Supreme Court: Explaining the Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the Bench of Ranjan Gogoi and P.C. Pant, JJ held that the 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.
In the present case where the appellant, an IRS officer, was involved in the disproportionate assets matter, the CVC had recommended that the sanction for prosecution be granted, however, the Finance Department later referred the matter to Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) which observed that administrative warning could be issued to the appellant for not intimating the transactions to Finance Department. The DoPT later conveyed that insufficiency of evidence can be tested in the court of law and sanction for prosecution can be granted. Finally, the Finance Department granted sanction for prosecution of the appellant.
The Court further said that what is required under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 is 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. It was further explained that sub-section (2) of Section 19 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. [Vivek Batra v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1146, decided on 18.10.2016]