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The Supreme Court yesterday struck down Section 6A(1) (a) and Section 6A(1) (b) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Act) as unconstitutional.
The decision was rendered by a Constitution Bench of Chief Justice RM Lodha and Justices AK Patnaik, Dipak Misra, SJ Mukhopadhaya and FMI Kalifulla in two writ petitions, one filed by Dr. Subramanian Swamy and the other by NGO Common Cause.
The impugned section deals with obtaining prior approval of the Central Government for the conduct of any inquiry for any offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (PC Act) where the allegations have been made against officers of the level of Joint Secretary and above.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan represented Common Cause. Additional Solicitor Generals L Nageswara Rao and KV Vishwanathan appeared for the Central government. Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan represented an intervenor while Senior Advocate Anil B Divan served as the amicus curiae.
After hearing the parties involved, the Court held that no distinction based on the position or status in service can be made between public servants against whom there are allegations amounting to an offence under the PC Act, 1988.
“It seems to us that classification which is made in Section 6-A on the basis of status in the Government service is not permissible under Article 14 as it defeats the purpose of finding prima facie truth into the allegations of graft, which amount to an offence under the PC Act, 1988.
Can there be sound differentiation between corrupt public servants based on their status? Surely not, because irrespective of their status or position, corrupt public servants are corrupters of public power. The corrupt public servants, whether high or low, are birds of the same feather and must be confronted with the process of investigation and inquiry equally.”
The court therefore held that,