As Rail Minister, he was accused of causing a Rs. 7-lakh loss to exchequer on foreign trip
The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed, for two weeks, criminal proceedings against the former Railway Minister, C. K. Jaffer Sharief, in a 1995 case registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation on Mr. Sharief's appeal against the Delhi High Court’s order rejecting his discharge plea. He was accused of conspiracy and taking four railway personnel along with him when he went to England for his medical treatment in 1995 as Minister, and causing the exchequer a loss of Rs. 7 lakh.
Earlier, senior counsel P.P. Rao said the CBI, in prosecuting the 80-year-old Congress leader, was trying to make a “mountain out of a molehill.”
To a question from Justice Sathasivam, Mr. Rao said it was an official visit and Mr. Sharief as Railway Minister, was entitled to take personal staff during his foreign trip. Further, no sanction was accorded for his prosecution. The Bench then said it would examine the matter.
In his appeal, Mr. Sharief said initially the CBI filed a closure report. But it was not accepted and the trial court took cognisance of the offence. His plea for quashing the charges was rejected by the High Court.
Mr. Sharief said the act, alleged against him, was within his executive powers. Discharge of executive functions per se, and in the absence of any pecuniary consideration, would not constitute an offence, much less under the Prevention of Corruption Act. In London, he was also discharging his executive functions. As he was a public servant at the time of the alleged act, he was entitled to the protection of Section 197 Cr.PC and undeniably, sanction for prosecution was refused by the competent authority. In such circumstances, prosecution was unwarranted, said the special leave petition.