NEW DELHI, MAY 10 (PTI)
Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal today suggested setting up of an Anti-Corruption Commission to oversee investigation and prosecution in corruption cases against those occupying high public offices.
In his valedictory address at a National Conference on Effects of Corruption on Good Governance and Human Rights, the CJI said the requirement for "sanction for prosecution" was being used as a shield to protect the corrupt.
He said such a Commission could ensure autonomy and transparency in the sanction process so that concerned authorities were also accountable and delivered their verdict within a specified time-frame. In the absence of this, the authorities would be accountable to the Commission, he added.
Justice Sabharwal said "we cannot shy away from the reality of poor conviction rate especially in cases of corruption involving such few high and might as could be brought to book." The concerns about the weaknesses in the criminal law system were not unfounded, he added.
"The provision of sanction for prosecution was meant to provide protective umbrella to the public servants who were acting bonafide. This provision has been used, or rather abused, so as to protect even those who are prima facie guilty," he said at the two-day seminar organized by NHRC.
Authorities who were expected to consider the facts and evidence and grant sanction often either sit over the request indefinitely or mechanically issue sanction orders, which can never pass judicial scrutiny, Justice Sabharwal pointed out.
"Given the fact that proper guidance is provided at every step of the way, such an approach itself smacks of malafide action," he said.
Following a landmark judgement of the Supreme Court in 1996 in DDA versus Skipper Constructions that highlighted the inadequacies of anti-corruption measures, the Law Commission had even suggested enactment of a special law.
A draft Bill titled "Corrupt Public Servants (Forfeiture of Property) Bill" prepared by the Law Commission was sent to the Centre in February 1999 but its outcome was still awaited, Justice Sabharwal said.
Maintaining that the best course in the fight against corruption was through transparency and accountability, the CJI said "the role of Judiciary and media has to be that of partners in action as they can provide the check.
"It is the duty of the other organs of the State to strengthen these two," he added.
National Human Rights Commission Chairman Justice A S Anand admitted that "our generation has accepted corruption" as a way of life and the next generation could fight it if value-based education was imparted to them.