In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will not need permission from the government to conduct an inquiry in corruption cases against senior bureaucrats.
A constitutional bench of the apex court upheld the primacy of Article 14 of the Constitution – equality before law – to bring senior bureaucrats – Jt Secretary and above – at par with the junior officers and others.
The bench said that there is no justification (for the bar on probe) as it hampers the fight against corruption.
“Corruption is the enemy of the nation. You can’t discriminate between a senior and junior level officer. A corrupt servant is a corrupt servant. You cannot protect one set,” the judges said.
As the CBI derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, it was bound by provision of Section 6A that requires CBI to seek prior permission of the central government to investigate officers of the rank of joint secretary and above for any offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Referred to as ‘single directive’, compliance with Section 6A would require the CBI to share with government details of corruption cases under its probe.
Today’s order has done away with that mandatory requirement and hence strengthens the power of the CBI to go after high ranking officers who indulge in corruption.
Expectedly, the CBI feels elated. “We are happy with the Supreme Court’s judgement,” CBI Director Ranjit Sinha said.