The CBI on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it did not require the government's sanction for a corruption probe against public servants in court-monitored cases but the government disagreed with this.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told an apex court bench of Justice RM Lodha, Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph it would file an application seeking its go-ahead to begin investigating an officer suspected of wrongdoing in the allocation of coal blocks.
Senior counsel Amarendra Saran, appearing for the CBI, sought to keep the government away from the process of giving sanction for investigating public servants facing corruption allegations but Attorney General GE Vahanvati said the court could seek the stand of government on such a plea.
Supreme Court's approval sufficient to probe corrupt officials: CBI
Saran's suggestion came in the course of the hearing on pleas related to the coal blocks allocation matter. Appearing for Centre for Public Interest Litigation, counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that since the CBI worked under the supervision of the Central Vigilance Commission there was no need for it to take sanction from the government.
The court would next hear the case August 29. It court asked the CBI to file three status reports on coal blocks allocation by August 27. Vahanvati strongly resisted the suggestion from the court that in cases monitored by it there was no need for the government's sanction to proceed against the high ranking officers.
"Once the departure is there in extraordinary circumstances (court ordering investigation and monitoring it) why you want to come back to 6A (section of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act mandating sanction by the government). There is no justification for the government's sanction in court-monitored cases", Justice Lodha told Vahanvati.
Urging the court to "achieve the same goal without involving constitutional and other legal questions", Vahanvati told the court that the "fact that the court would be looking into the government's order of granting or holding back the sanction would be sufficient check on the authorities:.
The court asked him: "When court is monitoring the investigation, is it not a sufficient check on the CBI that it should not go about its investigation in an arbitrary way."
"There should not be any apprehension that the CBI would investigate unfairly," Vahanvati was told. "Merely because the constitution bench is looking into the validity of DSPE Act, it does not mean that till it had considered it that the court can't look into different diverse aspect and facets emerging from that provision," Justice Lodha said. The court's remark came after the attorney general told the court that the issue of validity of section 6A was pending before the constitution bench.