“Sanctioning authority doesn't have to act like a judge”

Dismissing suspended Economic Services officer R.K. Chandolia's application seeking quashing of proceedings against him in the 2G spectrum scam on ground that the sanction taken to prosecute him was illegal, the Special CBI Court has observed that the sanctioning authority does not have to “act like a judge” and can take a prima facie view on the “role of a public servant in an alleged crime” after seeing “sufficient material” to reach a conclusion, without sifting through each and every document available with the investigation.

Mr. Chandolia, who functioned as former Telecom Minister A. Raja's private secretary, had alleged that the sanctioning authority had acted in haste while granting sanction to prosecute him without going through all the records available with the investigation.

“There is prima facie incriminating material on the record against accused [Mr. Chandolia]…. Such authority is not required to consider each and every document at the time of grant of sanction and may confine himself to the relevant material which points to the role of the concerned accused in the alleged criminal act,” Special Judge O. P. Saini observed.

The judge also noted that “there can be no judicialisation of the administration and the administrative/competent authority is not required to act like a judge.... Sanctioning Authority's duty is only to see if there are allegations which require investigation or there is material collected during investigation on the basis of which the public servant is required to be prosecuted.”

Observing that the authority needs to “see only that much of material which is good for it to arrive at a prima facie view” on the role of the public servant, the Special Judge observed: “How much material is good enough for taking such a view depends on the subjective satisfaction of the competent authority. Such authorities are not required to look at every page of every document collected by the investigating agency…as that might lead to miscarriage of justice.”

The court ruled that the sanction granted under Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act and Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was valid for the moment and a final view would be taken at the trial stage. The judge also opined that the purpose of the two sections was to protect honest decision makers/public servants and “not to defeat bona fide investigation or trial”.

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