The Supreme Court, on Friday, issued notice in a plea challenging the order of the Karnataka High Court, whereby a bribery complaint, filed against former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, his son B.Y. Vijayendra and others alleging offences under Prevention of Corruption Act, had been restored.
A Bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli stayed further proceedings by the Lokayukta in respect of B.S. Yediyurappa, the petitioner before it.
Senior Advocates, Mr. Siddharth Dave and Mr. Mukul Rohagti appearing on behalf of Yediyurappa argued that the Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act) requires prior sanction before conducting any inquiry, enquiry or investigation of offences relatable to recommendations made or decision taken by public servant in discharge of official functions or duties. In this regard, Mr. Dave referred to Section 17A of the PC Act. He also referred to the judgment of the Apex Court in Anil Kumar v. Ayyappa wherein it was held that prior sanction was necessary for the Special Judge to even forward the complaint under Section 156(3) CrPC. Mr. Rohatgi emphasised that the case is squarely covered by the judgment in Ayyappa.
The Counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent submitted that the decision in Ayyappa was subsequently referred to a larger bench for consideration. He argued that under section 19(1) of the PC Act no Court can take cognizance of offences as regards a public servant except with previous sanction, but, where the Special Court seeks to take cognizance of an offence under Section 19 of PC Act on the basis of complaint of facts under Section 190(1)(a) of Cr.P.C. and follows the procedure laid down in Chapter-XV of Cr.P.C., the requirement of sanction is only at the stage where the Special Court has not dismissed the complaint under Section 203 of Cr.P.C. and the Court directs the complainant to obtain sanction for prosecution to enable further proceedings by issuance of process to the accused persons under Section 204 of Cr.P.C. Insofar as offences under Sections 8, 9 and 10 of P.C. Act, in light of the Amendment in 2018 to Section 19(1) of the P.C. Act, no previous sanction is required and if the Special Judge were to proceed against the accused as regards such offence, the question of previous sanction will not arise.
It was averred that the bar on enquiry, inquiry or investigation is against the exercise of power of police and when the private complaint is before the Court and it orders for investigation pursuant to order under Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C, such bar under Section 17A would not restrain the Court's power. The said bar would come into effect only post registration of FIR when police are required to commence investigation.
Mr. Rohtagi's argument that the sanction has been refused by the Governor, was countered and the Counsel for the petitioner argued that, the complainant approaching the Governor for sanction for prosecution is of no legal significance, as he has no competence to seek for sanction. Thus, rejection of such request should have been ignored, as such request was not made either by the Police Officer or an Officer of Investigation Agency or other law enforcement Authorities; nor pursuant to the order of Court as contemplated under First Proviso to Section 19 of the PC Act.
The complaint alleged that crores of rupees have been exchanged in Bengaluru allegedly in the name of the stalled project of BDA and work order was issued in favour of M/s.Ramalingam Construction Company Pvt. Ltd., a company owned by accused No.5 Chandrakanth Ramalingum and Rs.12.5 Crores was demanded by Yediyurappa's son, on his father's behalf.
Further, It was alleged that accused No.7 Dr.G.C Prakash received Rs.12.5 Crores from accused No.8 K.Ravi on the assurance that the amount will be handed over to Yediyurappa, through his son Vijayendra.
The third allegation against the former CM was that he and other co-accused indulged in corruption by using shell companies and Rs.3,41,00,000/- amount was transferred to the shell companies and in turn the said amount was transferred to the bank account of the companies owned by Yediyurappa's family members.
Special Judge, referring to the judgment of Apex Court in Anil Kumar and Others v. M.K. Aiyappa and Another (2013) 10 SCC 705, recorded a finding that an order of reference for investigation under Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C. cannot be made without valid sanction under Section 19(1) of the P.C. Act.
A single judge of the High Court had partly allowed the petition filed by complainant Abraham T.J. and set aside the order dated July 8, 2021 passed by the Special Court set up for trying cases against Legislators.
[Case Title: B.S. Yediyurappa v. Abraham T.J]