By – Pragya Shukla
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
|NAME OF THE CASE||ABHAY SINGH CHAUTALA vs CBI|
|CITATION||AIR 2011, SCC 1257|
|JURISDICTION||THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA|
|DATE OF THE CASE||4th JULY, 2011|
|APPELLANT||ABHAY SINGH CHAUTALA|
|RESPONDENT||CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (CBI)|
|BENCH/ JUDGE||V.S. SIRPURKAR & T.S. THAKUR|
|STATUTES INVOLVED||INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860 & PREVENTION OF CORRUPTION ACT,1988|
|IMPORTANT SECTIONS/ ARTICLES INVOLVED||SECTIONS 7, 10, 11, 13(1), 13(2), 19(1) & 19(2) OF THE PREVENTION OF CORRUPTION ACT & SECTION 109 OF THE INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860|
This case in its literal sense dealt with the fact that if the public servant has misused a particular post and is not holding the office on the date of taking cognizance, there will be no need to obtain approval for the prosecution of that person.
The existing body of evidence consisted of an appellant against whom a charge sheet was filed for furnishing an offense under Section 13(1)(e) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 with Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. It was claimed that the slanderer had collected disproportionate funds in accordance with his salary when he was the authority of the Legislative Assembly.
When the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) started its investigation, it was found that the father of the appellant party had acquired huge assets and it was the same in the case of the appellant. Thus, the consent given under section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was not considered valid to prosecute him.
Corruption refers to the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain. It is a form of dishonesty or criminal offense committed by an individual or organization. This typically occurs when an office-holder or other government/private employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain. However, it can be anywhere in the business, government, courts, media, civil society, and all sectors.
The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to encounter and eradicate corruption in government agencies and public sector businesses in India.
In Abhay Singh Chautala vs CBI, it was alleged that while the accused was working as a member of the Legislative Assembly, he had acquired assets disproportionate to his known source of income. Thus, charges were filed against him based on the investigation done by CBI.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE: –
The trend of white-collar crimes in India has become a threat to the economic development of the country. These crimes require immediate intervention by the government not only by enacting strict laws but also by ensuring their proper implementation. Corruption, fraud, and bribery are some of the common white-collar crimes prevailing in our country.
Abhay Singh Chautala – the youngest son of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala started his political career as up sarpanch of Chautala Gram Panchayat and went into active politics after obtaining his bachelor’s degree. He came into the limelight after winning the Rori assembly of Haryana in the year 2000.
After winning the by-election from the Elanabad constituency of Haryana in 2009, he raised the issues related to the development of infrastructure in the state and called for the opening of new educational institutions and health centers for the provision of better living conditions. Later on, he was elected as an MLA and during his tenure, he was convicted for accumulation of disproportionate assets under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
FACTS OF THE CASE: –
- This case revolved around the MLA – Abhay Singh Chautala who was accused of amassing the wealth disproportionate to his source of income.
- He was subjected to a trial under Sections 13(1)(e) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act along with Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Thus, a charge sheet was filed against him by the CBI on the basis of its investigation.
- The CBI conducted searches and seized incriminating documents which revealed that Mr. Om Prakash Chautala, the father of the appellant had acquired movable and immovable properties worth Rs 1,467 crore.
- Later a notification was issued by the Haryana Government to probe the allegations under the Corruption Act in relation to the accumulation of assets disproportionate to the income of Mr. Om Prakash Chautala and his family members.
- On further investigation it was found that the appellant Abhay Singh Chautala had acquired assets worth Rs.1,19,69,82,619/- which was way beyond the known sources of his income.
ISSUES RAISED BEFORE THE COURT: –
Subsequent issues were raised before the court-
- Whether sanction under section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was necessary against both the appellants?
- Whether MLA is a public servant within the meaning of the expression in section, 21(3), 21(7) & 21(12)(a) IPC?
- Which sanctioning authority is qualified to remove MLA from the office of Member of
- Legislative Assembly?
ARGUMENTS RAISED BY BOTH THE PARTIES: –
ARGUMENTS RAISED BY THE APPELLANT: –
Shri Mukul Rohatgi, the learned senior counsel, appearing for the appellant, first pointed out that the direct meaning of section 19(1) of the Act is that when a public servant is prosecuted for offenses under the Act, a sanction is necessary. The learned senior counsel was aggrieved stating that in the absence of a sanction, no cognizance can be taken against the public servant under sections 7, 10, 11, 13, and 15 of the Act, and thus, a sanction is necessary. Learned Senior Advocate relied on the judgment passed in the case of Abdul Wahab Ansari Vs. State of Bihar [2000 (8) SCC 500] as well as a judgment passed in the case of Baij Nath Prasad Tripathi Vs. Bhopal State [1957 (1) SCR 650]. It was further stated that the simple language of section 19(1) cannot be disputed. Learned senior counsel argued that section 19(1) of the Act creates a complete bar against the accused, who is a public servant, from taking cognizance of the offenses mentioned in
that section. Learned senior counsel also argued that sub-section (2) has to be relied upon when the question arises as to which authority should grant the sanction. However, where there is no duty of any such nature, the court shall be bound to seek sanction before taking cognizance of the offenses mentioned under section 19(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
ARGUMENTS RAISED BY THE RESPONDENT: –
Mr. Gopal Subramaniam, the learned Solicitor General, appearing for the respondent, urged that the law on the question of sanction was clear, and in the case of AR Antulay (supra cited) the entire dispute was put to rest, which was followed to date. The Solicitor General urged that in view of the principle of stare decisis, the said position in the law should not be breached. The learned Solicitor General pointed out the judgment passed in RS Nayak v. AR Antulay (cited supra) along with the judgment passed in the case of Balakrishnan Ravi Menon v. Union of India (cited supra) and asserted that sanction wasn’t necessary.
Citing the principle of stare decisis, the solicitor general on behalf of the respondent argued that according to this legal principle the court is obliged to follow historical cases when deciding a similar case. The decision to stare ensures that cases involving similar scenarios and facts are approached in the same way. Thus, the Court is obliged to follow the legal precedent set by previous decisions.
RELATED PROVISIONS: –
- Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860-
It basically states that an act or offense is said to be done in consequence of the abetment when it is done in the pursuance of a conspiracy, or with the aid which constitutes the abetment.
This section talks about punishment for abetment in any form. This section simply asserts that any person who is trying to abet a person to do an illegal act, the person committing such offense, and the person trying to incite the person to do such act shall be deemed to be guilty of the committed offenses.
- Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988-
This section basically asserts that where a public servant wrongfully induces a person to believe that his influence with the government has elicited a title for that person and thus induces him to give money or any other gratification is said to have committed a crime and is liable for rigorous punishment.
- Section 10 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988-
This section states that- “Whoever being a public servant commits an offense shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.”
- Section 11 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988-
It states that whoever being a public servant, accepts or receives or agrees to accept any valuable thing which he knows to be inadequate shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.
- Section 13(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988-
It underlines that -A public servant is said to have committed the offense of criminal misconduct if he obtains by corrupt or illegal means, any valuable article or pecuniary advantage for himself or any other person by abusing his office as a public servant.
- Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988-
It states that -Any public servant who commits criminal misconduct shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than four years but which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.
- Section 19(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988-
It states that previous sanction shall be required for prosecution-
(a) in the case of a person who is employed in connection with the affairs of the Union and is not removable from his office by or without the sanction of the Central Government of that Government;
(b) in the case of a person who is employed in connection with the affairs of a State and cannot be removed from his office of that Government without the sanction of the State Government;
(c) in the case of any other person, of the authority competent to remove him from his office.
- Section 19(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988-
It states that- “Where any doubt arises for any reason as to whether the previous sanction required under sub-section should be given by the Central Government or the State Government or any other authority, such sanction shall be given by that Government or authority who will be able to remove the servant from his office when the culprit would be discharged.
The Court held that with respect to the present case it was absolutely right to rely on the judgment passed in Parkash Singh Badal v State of Punjab. It held that the appellant had misused his power and was holding the office till the date on which he took cognizance and hence, there was no need for sanction under section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act as stated in K.K. Karunakaran v. State of Kerala. The appeals made by him were without merit and were dismissed by the court. The Court highlighted the fact that the concept of ‘doubt’ or ‘multiplicity of office’ cannot be used to conclude the interpretation of section 19(1) as given in Antulay’s case or Parkash Singh Badal vs the State of Punjab.
It further clarified the fact that merely because the concept of doubt has been contemplated in section 19(2), it cannot mean that the public servant who has abused any office other than his own cannot be prosecuted without any sanction.
As our society moves towards modernity and the world is experiencing new technological advancements, the crime rate also increases rapidly. There has been a huge increase in white-collar crimes in particular. These crimes are being committed everywhere from the political profession to educational institutions.
The government should make laws that are strict enough to reduce the commission of such offenses and the system should be such that there should be stringent laws giving severe punishment to the accused. If this is not done then people will soon lose complete faith in the system, as these crimes are committed by people who should act as role models for society.
This case drew our attention to the rapid increase of white-collar crimes in India. The study of corruption is nothing new; it has been the center of substantial analysis and research for decades. Political corruption is the worst in India. The major cause of concern is that corruption weakens the political body and harms the supreme importance of law governing society. Nowadays politics is only for criminals and criminals are meant to be in politics. This case passed a landmark verdict emphasizing the fact that- “ No sanction is necessary for prosecution when the accused public servant at the time of cognizance is not holding the public office which he is alleged to have abused.”