The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned the “alleged inaction and silence” on the part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for 16 months in taking a decision on a private complaint seeking sanction for prosecution of A. Raja, who has since resigned as Telecom Minister, in the 2G spectrum scam.

“The Prime Minister could have said that the material on record was insufficient and declined sanction but he could not have sat over the complaint for 16 months,” observed Justice A.K. Ganguly, who was on a two-judge Bench presided over by Justice G.S. Singhvi.

The Bench was hearing a special leave petition filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy for a direction to the Prime Minister to grant sanction for prosecution of Mr. Raja. It asked Solicitor-General (SG) Gopal Subramaniam, representing the Prime Minister, to go through records and inform the court on Thursday what action was taken on Dr. Swamy's complaint.

Dr. Swamy, citing the judgment in the Vineet Narain case, said the sanctioning authority (SA) should decide one way or the other within three months and must act independently on the material placed on record. However, since Mr. Raja had now resigned, no sanction was required for his prosecution, Dr. Swamy said, adding he must be permitted to file the private complaint in the competent court.

The SG said it was open to the SA to look into other material before arriving at a decision. He said the three-month period mentioned in the Vineet Narain case pertained to cases where investigation had been completed. It was open to the SA to await the result of the probe for a proper decision.

Justice Ganguly told the SG: “The three months' time for grant of sanction laid down by the Supreme Court is for the purpose of fair and good governance. The judgment says the SA will not be influenced by extraneous materials. We find it is now more than 16 months. The SA can say I am not inclined to give sanction. But we find alleged inaction and silence for 16 months.”

Justice Ganguly referred to the Prime Minister's reply sent to Dr. Swamy on March 19, 2010 that he wanted to wait for further material or await CBI investigation, and said “for the PM saying it is premature [to decide on sanction] is what is troubling us.”

Justice Ganguly said: “The SA can say ‘yes' or ‘no', but to say premature means the complainant has not got that right yet. You look at the language of the letter and the tenor of the reply. Communication coming from a constitutional authority like the Prime Minister has to be carefully used.”

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