The Karnataka High Court’s ruling that no private complaints against public servants could be entertained without prior sanction for their prosecution will impact a majority of such complaints pending before the Special Lokayukta Courts in the State.

Except the complaints filed by Sirajin Basha against the then Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa after securing sanction from the Governor, in no case sanction for prosecution was produced before the special courts by the complainants on the date of filing of complaints. Hence, said the former Additional Advocate-General K.M. Nataraj, the special courts “cannot take note of” these complaints.

However, Mr. Nataraj points out that the verdict of the Supreme Court in the A.R. Antulay’s case permits the special courts to take cognisance of offence against a Minister without sanction under the PC Act after he demits the post of Minister, which he is alleged to have abused, even though he continues to be an MLA or MP…or against MLAs or MPs after they cease to hold these posts.

‘Sanction under Cr. PC must’

The special courts may proceed against the former Ministers or former MLAs, or former MPs under the PC Act in the absence of sanction if the complaint is re-presented. However, the special courts may not be able to do so if they are charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with the provisions of the PC Act as the law is well settled that no courts can take cognisance of offence under the IPC against a public servant — whether serving or retired or demitted the office — in the absence of sanction granted by the competent authority under Section 197 of the Cr. PC, Mr. Nataraj pointed out.

Also, Mr. Nataraj said, in many of the complaints, bureaucrats and other government servants have been made co-accused along with politicians. And the special courts cannot prosecute politicians alone in the absence of sanction for prosecuting bureaucrats and other government servants, who are made co-accused in many of these complaints, in the absence of mandatory sanction required under Section 197 of the Cr. PC.

Mandatory

The Karnataka High Court in 2011 itself had set aside the Bangalore Special Court’s decision of taking cognisance of offence against the former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy holding that sanction under Section 197 of Cr. PC was mandatory as he was charged with offences under IPC along with the provisions of the PC Act.

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