23 July 2021 12:05 PM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Friday dismissed the petition filed by former PWD Secretary TO Sooraj, seeking to quash the FIR registered against him in the Palarivattom Flyover Scam case.Justice Narayana Pisharadi observed as such, 'the expression "discharge of his official functions or duties" in Section 17A of the Act reflects the legislative intent that the protection envisaged is not a...
The Kerala High Court on Friday dismissed the petition filed by former PWD Secretary TO Sooraj, seeking to quash the FIR registered against him in the Palarivattom Flyover Scam case.
Justice Narayana Pisharadi observed as such, 'the expression "discharge of his official functions or duties" in Section 17A of the Act reflects the legislative intent that the protection envisaged is not a blanket protection. The purpose is to protect an honest and responsible public servant if the recommendation made or decision taken by him is in the discharge of his official functions or duties."
The Single Bench also held as follows:
Use or utilization of public funds by a public servant under the colour of authority but really for his own benefit cannot be considered as an act done in discharge of his official functions or duties. Such an act is not entitled to get protection under Section 17A of the Act.
The petitioner had approached the Court contending that prior approval obtained by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau was not sufficient to proceed against him. He stated that under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, an FIR could be registered against him only after obtaining permission from the State.
Sooraj was the Secretary of Public Works Department from 12th October 2012 to 22nd November 2014. He had contended in his petition that there was no prior approval taken by the agency, as contemplated under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, before proceeding with an investigation against him. Apart from this, it was argued that a prior approval, in this case, had to be signed by the Governor, which was not done by the respondents.
The VACB had opposed the petition earlier this month asserting that it had obtained the requisite prior approval under the Prevention of Corruption Act for investigating accused officers.
While dismissing the petition, the Court added that 'the embargo under Section 17A of the Act applies only to such enquiry or investigation which is initiated after the introduction of that provision in the statute. The legislative intent is certainly not to set the clock back to invalidate investigation or enquiry which was undertaken prior to the coming into force of that provision.'
Senior Advocate S. Sreekumar made an appearance for the petitioner. Director-General of Prosecution T.A Shaji also appeared in the matter.
The Palarivattom Flyover was constructed on the National Highway-66 to reduce acute traffic congestion in the area. The flyover was opened for traffic in 2016. However, within a few weeks, potholes and hairline cracks appeared on the flyover
The Minister of Public Works Department thereby sent a communication to the Chief Minister in which it was alleged that irregularities had been committed in the construction of the flyover. The Chief Minister hence passed an order to conduct vigilance enquiry in the matter.
Accordingly, VACB conducted a vigilance enquiry in the matter. The enquiry revealed commission of the offences under Section 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of the Act and under Section 120B of the FIR was registered.
In his petition seeking to quash the FIR registered against him, it was submitted that he was not arrayed as an accused in the FIR in the initial stage. To this the Court responded that
"FIR is not an encyclopedia disclosing all facts and details relating to the offence allegedly committed. FIR is not meant to be a detailed document containing a chronicle of all intricate and minute details. It is well known that, whenever an offence is committed, it is not necessary that the investigation shall be confined to the role of only those arrayed as accused in the FIR."
Case Title: TO Sooraj v. State of Kerala & Anr.
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