SC caution on delay in graft cases involving public servants

New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court has said that in corruption cases involving public servants, the courts should guard against hyper-technical contentions and decide the issues with promptness, shunning the attempt to drag the cases.

Urging the courts to be prompt and guard against hyper-technical contention, the court said: "It should be borne in mind that historically corruption is a disquiet disease for healthy governance. It has the potentiality to stifle the progress of a civilised society. It ushers in an atmosphere of distrust."

"Corruption fundamentally is perversion and infectious and an individual perversity can become a social evil," the court said.

"We have said so as we are of the convinced view that in these kind of matters there has to be reflection of promptitude, abhorrence for procrastination, real understanding of the law and to further remain alive to differentiate between hyper-technical contentions and the acceptable legal proponements," said the apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice Dipak Misra Tuesday.

"It is the duty of the court that the matters are appropriately dealt with on proper understanding of law of the land. Minor irregularities or technicalities are not to be given Everestine status," said Justice Dipak Misra who authored the judgment.

"The flimsy technicalities cannot be allowed to become tools in the hands of an accused," the court said.

The court said this while setting aside a Bombay High Court order refusing to grant leave to the CBI to file appeal against a trial court order which acquitted accused Mahesh G. Jain in a case of accepting an illegal gratification of Rs.1,000 from the complainant for giving a tax deduction at source certificate to a man who was supplying vehicles to State Bank of India on hire.

The trial judge while adverting to all the issues and answering all of them in affirmative against the accused, acquitted him solely on the ground that the sanction order (by the sanctioning authority) was defective and illegal and that went to the very root of jurisdiction of the court.

The apex court also set aside the conclusion of the trial court judge pertaining to the validity of sanction.

Remitting the matter to the high court, the apex court said" "True it is, grant of sanction is a sacrosanct and sacred act and is intended to provide a safeguard to the public servant against vexatious litigation but simultaneously when there is an order of sanction by the competent authority indicating application of mind, the same should not be lightly dealt with."

Having cautioned the courts below to guard against flimsy technicalities, the court said: "At this stage, we think it apposite to state that while sanctity attached to an order of sanction should never be forgotten but simultaneously the rampant corruption in society has to be kept in view."

It has come to the notice of this Court, the judgment said: "How adjournments are sought in a maladroit manner to linger the trial and how at every stage ingenious efforts are made to assail every interim order."

The court said that in the factual matrix of the case: "We must say without any iota of hesitation that the approach of the learned trial judge as well as that of the learned single judge is wholly incorrect and does not deserve acceptance."