At the conclusion of arguments, the Supreme Court on Thursday reserved verdict on the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act providing for prior sanction for prosecution of senior bureaucrats in corruption cases.

Section 6A protects officers at and above the level of Joint Secretary from facing any CBI inquiry

Earlier, Additional Solicitor-General K.V. Viswanathan, appearing for the Centre, told a Constitution Bench that the state was the first victim of corruption. He said: “The Executive is in the best position to judge whether it has been a victim of corruption. Section 6A has been enacted to protect the decision-making process of the Executive from undue harassment and exercise of police powers by the Central Bureau of Investigation. It is intended to ensure good governance and not to protect corrupt officials.”

Justice R.M. Lodha disagreed. “This provision, on the face of it, is not a sane provision. It grants absolute protection to corrupt officers from prosecution. Has this provision, which has been in the statute book for over a decade, improved governance? If so, we can take judicial note of it. We understand that officers need a safeguard but not across the board. They don’t need a shield like this.”

Justice A.K. Patnaik intervened and told the ASG: “you [the Centre] have made the law in such a way that it perpetuates corruption in the country. You want everybody who takes a bribe to be safe and protected. What is the justification for sanction in disproportionate assets cases when you know he has amassed wealth?”

Mr. Viswanathan replied: “Our effort is not to allow officers to go scot-free but at the same time genuine officers should not be affected.” He drew the court’s attention to the United Nations recognising such protection, as has been provided by 6A, in Article 30 of the U.N. Convention Against Corruption.

The other judges on the Bench are Justices S.K. Mukhopadhaya, Dipak Misra and Ibrahim Kalifulla. Senior counsel Anil Divan appeared for BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, Prashant Bhushan for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, ASG L. Nageswara Rao, along with Mr. Viswanathan, for the Centre, and ASG Siddharth Luthra for the CBI.

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