Sanction Order U/S 19 Of PC Act Can Be Reviewed By Sanctioning Authority Where Fresh Material Has Been Collected: Chhattisgarh High Court

Sanction Order U/S 19 Of PC Act Can Be Reviewed By Sanctioning Authority Where Fresh Material Has Been Collected: Chhattisgarh High Court

Judiciary

The Chhattisgarh High Court on April 6, 2018, in the case of Dilip Kumar Sharma v. State of Chhattisgarh, has held that prosecution sanction order under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, can be reviewed by the sanctioning authority where fresh material has been collected and brought to the notice of the said authority.

Background

 The petitioner was a public servant working as Branch Manager of Chhattisgarh State Ware Housing Corporation, Branch Balod. In order to charge-sheet the petitioner under Sections 13(1)(e) and 13(2) of the Act of 1988, sanction for prosecution under Section 19 was sought from the Managing Director, Chhattisgarh State Ware Housing Corporation by the investigating agency. The said sanctioning authority by its order dated 29- 7-2016, finding no case for grant of sanction, rejected the application. Later, the Board of Directors examined the matter and found that prima facie case is made out against the petitioner under Sections 13(1)(e) and 13(2) of the Act of 1988. The sanction for prosecution of the petitioner was granted under Section 19 of the Act of 1988.

The petitioner then filed the instant petition questioning the said order of sanction for prosecution stating inter alia that once a decision has been taken not to grant sanction, in absence of fresh material collected, subsequently after the earlier order, the sanctioning authority has no power to review its earlier order declining sanction for prosecution. Therefore, the impugned order deserves to be set aside.

Issue

The main issue for consideration was whether the sanctioning authority has power and jurisdiction to review its order in the matter of sanction under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, for offence under Section 13(1)(e) read with Section 13(2) of the Act of 1988 and an order passed refusing sanction to prosecute under Section 19 of the Act of 1988 can be reviewed?

Arguments

The learned counsel, appearing for the petitioner, submitted before the court that – Firstly, that the order of sanction has been granted against the petitioner by reviewing the earlier order declining to grant sanction, without there being any fresh material brought on record which is in teeth of the provisions contained in Section 19 of the Act of 1988. Secondly, that the order of sanction has been passed pursuant to the direction given by the Additional Director General on 29-8-2016 and also pursuant to the direction given by the Board of Directors whereas, the competent authority to grant sanction is the Managing Director of the Corporation. Therefore, the order impugned deserves to be set aside.

The learned Deputy Advocate General, appearing for the State, on the other hand, submitted before the court that the sanctioning authority finding error apparent on the face of record, in the earlier order, rightly accorded sanction against the petitioner under Section 19 of the Act of 1988. It was also argued that the Additional Director General has brought to the notice of the sanctioning authority the error committed by the Managing Director while declining to grant sanction and subsequently, the order of sanction for prosecution has been reviewed and relying upon the material on record, sanction has rightly been granted.

Judgment

 The court taking into consideration various judgments passed by the Supreme Court observed that “the order passed under Section 19 of the Act of 1988 by the sanctioning authority can be reviewed / reconsidered on the following circumstances: –

  1. Where fresh materials have been collected by the investigating agency and if on that basis, the matter can be reconsidered.
  2. When the authority has failed to take into consideration a relevant fact or took into consideration an irrelevant fact.”

Keeping in mind the above principle, a single judge Bench of Justice Sanjay K. Agrawal said that “The sanctioning authority decided to grant sanction for prosecution against the petitioner under Sections 13(1)(e) and 13(2) of the Act of 1988 finding prima facie case for grant of sanction for prosecution under Section 19 of the Act of 1988 which in the considered opinion of this Court is strictly in accordance with law, as the relevant fact was omitted to be considered and the earlier order declining sanction was reviewed on the ground of declining sanction by omitting to consider the relevant fact. In the aforesaid order of the sanctioning authority, I do not find any jurisdictional error. The learned sanctioning authority is absolutely justified in holding that case for grant of sanction under Section 19 of the Act of 1988 is made out.”

 Placing reliance on the Supreme Court judgment in State by Police Inspector v. T. Venkatesh Murthy, the court gave one more reason for upholding the order passed by the sanctioning authority.

It said: “from the aforesaid authoritative pronouncement of the Supreme Court, it is quite vivid that the courts are not supposed to quash the proceeding under the Act of 1988 on the ground of any error, omission or irregularity in the sanction granted by the authority, unless it is satisfied that such error, omission or irregularity has resulted in a failure of justice. Therefore, the overriding principle which permeates the judgment is that unless there is failure of justice on account of error, omission or irregularity in grant of sanction for prosecution, the proceedings under the Act of 1988 could not be vitiated.”

Dismissing the writ petition, the court said “In the instant case, neither it has been pleaded nor it has been demonstrated that the order granting sanction has resulted into failure of justice as it has clearly been held that the power of review can be exercised when irrelevant consideration has been taken into account in the earlier order and relevant consideration has been ignored while passing the order. I do not find any error of jurisdiction in the impugned order. The sanctioning authority is justified in granting sanction for prosecution against the petitioner under Section 19 of the Act of 1988 for his prosecution under Sections 13(1)(e) and 13(2) of the Act of 1988.”

 [Read judgment]

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