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Section 197 CrPC: Employees Of Public Sector Corporations Are Not Entitled To Protection Of Sanction As 'Public Servant': SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
19 Aug 2019 12:04 PM GMT
Section 197 CrPC: Employees Of Public Sector Corporations Are Not Entitled To Protection Of Sanction As

"The fact that their past service may count for purposes of pension in case of removal or dismissal by the Corporation or that administrative approval of the concerned ministry may be formally required before any punitive action will not confer on them the status of 'public servant' under the Cr.P.C."

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The Supreme Court has reiterated that those employees of public sector corporations are not entitled to the protection under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, as 'public servant'.

The bench comprising Justice Navin Sinha and Justice AS Bopanna were considering an appeal against rejecting the challenge to their prosecution for lack of sanction under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

The contention raised in this case [BSNL vs. Pramod V. Sawant], before the Apex Court was that they having been appointed by Hon'ble the President of India to the Indian Telecommunication Service, were removable by orders of the President only. The fact that they may have been sent on deputation to the Corporation is inconsequential mandating sanction under Section 197, Cr.P.C. before their prosecution., it was urged before the Court. Countering these submissions, the respondent contended that two of them had opted for absorption and thus became employees of the Corporation with effect from 01.10.2000 and ceased to be government employees in the Central Civil Services Class 1 and One appellant appears to have retired from the appellant Corporation while on deputation, but his status is not clear.

The bench observed that the question for grant of sanction for prosecution under Section 197, Cr.P.C. on the ground of being a 'public servant' is not available to the two appellants on account of their ceasing to be employees of the Indian Telecommunication Service after their absorption in the appellant Corporation on 01.10.2000, prior to the complaint. The bench added:

The fact that their past service may count for purposes of pension in case of removal or dismissal by the Corporation or that administrative approval of the concerned ministry may be formally required before any punitive action will not confer on them the status of 'public servant' under the Cr.P.C
We are therefore required to consider if sanction under Section 197, Cr.P.C. was a prerequisite with regard to him in a status as a 'public servant'. The question is no more res integra and stands authoritatively settled that employees of public sector corporations are not entitled to the protection under Section 197 Cr.P.C. as 'public servant'.

The bench further held that that sufficient evidence is not available on record at this stage with regard to the status of appellant no.2 hold that the protection under Section 197 Cr.P.C shall be available to him. These are matters to be considered by the Magistrate on basis of the evidence that may be placed before him during the course of trial, the bench added. Dismissing their appeal, the bench observed:

"It is therefore, held that the question of sanction under Section 197, Cr.P.C. with regard to appellants nos.3 and 4 treating them to be 'public servant' simply does not arise because of their absorption in the Corporation. With regard to appellant no.2, considering his status as on deputation to the appellant Corporation at the relevant point of time and in absence of necessary evidence with regard to his status in the appellant Corporation throughout the litigation being ambiguous, we leave that question open for consideration in the trial after necessary evidence is available." 

Click here to Read/Download Judgment


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