The Supreme Court has observed that the charge against an accused for offence punishable under the Indian Penal Code can continue irrespective of the fact that sanction in respect of offence punishable under Prevention of Corruption Act,is not forthcoming.
The bench comprising of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna agreed with the view taken by Jharkhand High Court while dismissing a petition filed an employee of BPCL (Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd.).
In this case, the Trial Court, while dismissing the discharge petition, had observed that the accused, being the employees of a public sector company are not entitled to protection by way of sanction u/s 197 CrPC and therefore proceeded to frame the charges u/s 120(B)/420/406/407/409/420 of IPC against the accused.
Assailing this order before the High Court, the petitioner contended that so far as the charge under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 as well as the Indian Penal Code are concerned, they are absolutely same and similar and therefore in absence of prosecution sanction under the provisions of aforesaid Act of 1988, the criminal prosecution under Indian Penal Code also cannot be sustained. In support of this proposition, he relied on an Allahabad High Court judgment in (2001) Cr. Law Journal 2058 (Ravindra Kumar Sharma vs. State).
Taking note of this submission, the High Court noted that the accused in the said (Allahabad HC) case was entitled to protection of sanction under the provisions of Indian penal code as well as under the provisions of PC Act and in the instant case, the petitioner is not entitled to any protection under the provisions of Indian penal code. In the said case, there was application of mind of the authorities in connection with sanction for prosecution and in the present case there is absence of sanction for prosecution and not refusal of sanction for prosecution, it said.Holding thus, the High Court refused his plea to quash the charge framed against him.
While dismissing the SLP filed by him, the bench observed that it does not find any infirmity in the view taken by the High Court. It said:
"We decline to deviate from the view taken by the High Court that the charge against the petitioner for offence punishable under the Indian Penal Code can continue irrespective of the fact that sanction in respect of offence punishable under Prevention of Corruption Act, is not forthcoming. To that extent, we find no infirmity in the conclusion reached by the High Court. Our understanding of the impugned judgment is that the High Court has made it clear that if sanction to prosecute the petitioner for offence punishable under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 is not or has not been granted, the question of proceeding against the petitioner for that charge does not arise. This aspect be borne in mind by the Trial Court while proceeding with the trial against the petitioner."
Case name: SATYABRAT GUPTA vs. THE STATE OF JHARKHANDCase no.: SLP (Crl.) No(s). 2787/2020Coram: Justice AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv KhannaCounsel: Sr. Adv. Harin P. Raval, Adv Mushtaq Ahmad (AOR)