Arguing that the appeal of the Central Bureau of Investigation against the acquittals in the 2G case has become infructuous in view of the 2018 amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act, R K Chandolia, one of the acquitted persons, has filed an application in the Delhi High Court.
Chandolia was the private secretary of former telecom minister A Raja during the time of auctioning of 2G licenses.
It is stated that the 2018 amendment has wholly substituted Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988. This has entirely changed the definition of the offence of "criminal misconduct".
While the 1988 provision covered six types of acts under the head of "criminal misconduct", the new provision only covers two types of acts. Chandolia argues that the High Court has to make a preliminary enquiry as to whether the allegations would stand in view of the narrower definition of "criminal misconduct" after the amendment.
It is stated in the application that the Amendment Act of 2018 did not have any "savings clause" to save the prosecutions launched under the unamended provisions of PC Act.
"It is a settled law that once an act is repealed it must be considered as if it never existed and the same would be considered obliterated from the statute books", says the application.
The application further argues that Section 6A of General Clauses Act -which speaks of continuity of prosecution under repealed laws with respect to offences which took place when it was in force- will not apply when the amendment is beneficial in nature.
The 2018 amendment was passed to protect honest officers, who may have been negligent in taking decisions, but have not taken any illegal gratification.
If a subsequent amendment downgrades the harshness of the offence, the accused must be given its benefit, argues the application citing the SC decision in State through CBI Delhi v Gian Singh AIR 1994 SC 3450.
Stating that the continuation of proceedings will cause him further "ignominy and hardship", Chandolia urge sthe Court to decline leave to CBI to appeal against the acquittal.
"The applicant and other accused persons have acquired a vested right after having been declared innocent and exonerated from all charges including but not limited to under the stringent Section 13(1)(d) of the PC Act, which is no longer a law in forces", says the application.
All accused in the 2G scam case, including former ministers A Raja and Kanimozhi, were acquitted by a Delhi Special CBI Court in December 2017. The investigation and trial in the case were carried out under the monitoring of the Supreme Court.
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