Libertatem Magazine

Prior Sanction Necessary Before Issuing Summons to Public Servants

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The Supreme Court in the case of Prof. N.K. Ganguly v. CBI New Delhi, on 19-11-2015, while Addressing issue where summons were issued to the public servants without obtaining sanction from the Central Government, the division bench of V. Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy, J.J. held that, where a public servant has been accused of criminal conspiracy in the discharge of his official duty, it is obligatory to obtain prior sanction from the Central Government under Section 197 of Cr.P.C. Furthermore, where a public servant has been charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (PCA), prior sanction is necessary under Section 19 of the PCA.

A Criminal Case was registered under Section 120-B of IPC read with Sections 13 (1) (d) and 13 (2) of the PCA, against N.K. Ganguly, the Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), for illegal transfer of land from Institute of Cytology & Preventive Oncology (ICPO) to ICPO- ICMR. The Special Judge of Anti Corruption, CBI issued summons against the appellants for trial of such offences. Aggrieved by the Order, the appellants appealed to the Allahabad High Court, requesting it to quash the proceedings. The High Court refused to interfere with the order and therefore an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court.  Gopal Subramanium, on behalf of the appellants contended that, prior sanction is a mandatory requirement under Section 197, Cr.P.C. as the act was done by the public servants during the discharge of their official duty. Kiran Suri, on behalf of the respondents, contended that the sanction was not required as the appellants had entered into criminal conspiracy, which cannot be said to be a part of their official duty.

The Court, placing reliance on Shreekantiah Ramayya Munipalli v. State of Bombay, AIR (1955) SC 287, interpreted that the ambit of Section 197, Cr.P.C is to assert that the act of criminal conspiracy is within the ambit of official duty. The Court thus set aside the order of the High Court and quashed the proceedings taking cognizance and issuing summons to the appellants.



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