Delhi HC quashes Sanction to prosecute IRS Officer in Two 18 yr Old Cases, says CBI investigation smacks of intentional mischief
Quashing the Sanction Order to prosecute IRS officer Ashok Kumar Aggarwal in two 18-year old cases relating to alleged framing of a businessman in a FERA case and graft, the Delhi High Court has slammed CBI for misdirecting the investigation and withholding the material evidence against him. The Court also issued guidelines relating to grant of sanction to prosecute public Servants. Justice Siddharth Mridul held that if the entire material of investigation is not sent to the sanctioning authority, the consequent sanction order becomes invalid on account of non-application of mind by the sanctioning authority.The Court, referring to various decisions of Apex Court, observed the following.
- Grant of sanction is a sacrosanct act and is intended to provide safeguard to a public servant against frivolous and vexatious litigation.
- The sanctioning authority after being apprised of all the facts, must be of an opinion that prima-facie a case is made out against the public servant.
- Thus, for a valid sanction the sanctioning authority must be apprised of all the relevant material and relevant facts in relation to the commission of the offence.
- This application of mind by the sanctioning authority is a sine qua non for a valid sanction.
- The ratio of the sanction order must speak for itself and should enunciate that the sanctioning authority has gone through the entire record of the investigation. Thus, the sanction order must expressly show that the sanctioning authority has perused the material placed before it, and after considering the circumstances in the case against the public servant, has granted sanction.
- If the application of mind by the sanctioning authority is not apparent from the sanction order itself then the burden of proving that the entire relevant record was placed before the sanctioning authority rests on the prosecution. The prosecution must establish and satisfy the court by leading evidence that the entire record of investigation was placed before the sanctioning authority.
About the CBI which investigated the case, the Court had this to say “I am compelled to comment on the manner in which the investigation in the subject case has been carried out. The investigation smacks of intentional mischief to misdirect the investigation as well as withhold material evidence which would exonerate the petitioner. These proceedings asseverate to be a glaring case of suggestion falsi, suppresioveri (Suppression of the truth is [equivalent to] the expression of what is false), and hence mala fide. It does not seem to be merely a case of faulty investigation but is seemingly an investigation coloured with motivation or an attempt to ensure that certain persons can go scot free.”
The Court further said “Normally, the case would have been remitted back to the sanctioning authority for reconsideration on a fresh order of sanction. However, in the circumstance that the instant case commenced as far back as in 1998 and eighteen years have since lapsed; and in the light of the decision of the Supreme Court in Mansukhlal Vithal das Chauhan vs. State of Gujarat (supra), in my opinion it would be unfair, unjust and contrary to the interests of justice to expose the petitioner to another round of litigation and keep him on trial for an indefinitely long period.”
Read the Judgment here.