Tuesday, January 31, 2012

UOI gets a rap for hobnobbing with the corrupt

Supreme Court verdict on corruption cases is big setback for govt
A Vaidyanathan, Updated: January 31, 2012 13:20 IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has delivered a verdict that will impact all cases against public officials, bureaucrats and ministers. Today's verdict provokes new embarrassment for the government because it agrees that Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy had every right to ask the Prime Minister's Office to sanction the prosecution of former Telecom Minister A Raja for corruption charges. Mr Swamy had gone to court against the Prime Minister's Office which refused to respond for many months to his petition. "The verdict is a slap on the government's face," said the BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Reacting to the judgement, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy said, "The sanction issue has been addressed in the Lokpal Bill. The Supreme Court has also said the Parliament should formulate the policy. As far as time frame is concerned, we will formulate guidelines accordingly after studying the judgement."

Rules dictate that without sanction from a top government authority, a public servant cannot be prosecuted. The Supreme Court has said today that the authority in question has three months within which to decide if permission has been granted. Another month can be taken if the government wanted to take the opinion of the attorney general. If there is no response for four months, it can be assumed that proceedings can begin against the government servant in question.

Mr Swamy wanted Mr Raja to stand trial for his alleged role as the mastermind of the telecom or 2G scam, which saw companies getting mobile network licenses and spectrum at throwaway prices. Mr Swamy waited for nearly 16 months for a reply from the Prime Minister's Office, which told him that the evidence against Mr Raja was being scrutinized. Mr Swamy then went to court.

The right to file a complaint against a public servant under Prevention of Corruption Act is a constitutional right, said the Supreme Court.

The government says that the new Lokpal Bill that was passed by the Lok Sabha in December does away with the need to seek any sanction against a government servant accused of corruption. Therefore, sources say, today's verdict proves the government was right to push for this feature. The Lokpal Bill, which creates a new ombudsman agency to investigate corruption charges against government servants, has yet to be passed by the Rajya Sabha.
Supreme Court verdict on corruption cases is big setback for govt

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