Friday, 19 June 2020

Supreme Court: Grant of sanction for prosecution of a public servant is only an administrative function

The Appellant has relied upon the judgments of this Court in Mohd. Iqbal Ahmed v. State of A.P. MANU/SC/0181/1979 : (1979) 4 SCC 172 and State of Karnataka v. Ameerjan MANU/SC/7922/2007 : (2007) 11 SCC 273 to challenge the sanction order. In Mohd. Iqbal Ahmed (supra) it was observed that a valid sanction is the one that is granted by the Sanctioning Authority after being satisfied that a case for sanction is made out constituting the offence. It is important to be mindful of the observations made by the Court as reproduced below:

3. [...] what the Court has to see is whether or not the Sanctioning Authority at the time of giving sanction was aware of the facts constituting the offence and applied its mind for the same...

Similarly, in Ameerjan (supra), it was observed:

10. [...] Ordinarily, before passing an order of sanction, the entire records containing the materials collected against the Accused should be placed before the sanctioning authority. In the event, the order of sanction does not indicate application of mind as (sic to) the materials placed before the said authority before the order of sanction was passed, the same may be produced before the court to show materials had in fact been produced.

Therefore, what the law requires is the application of mind by the Sanctioning Authority on the material placed before it to satisfy itself of prima facie case that would constitute the offence. On the said aspect, the later decision of this Court in State of Maharashtra v. Mahesh G. Jain MANU/SC/0561/2013 : (2013) 8 SCC 119 has referred to several decisions to expound on the following principles of law governing the validity of sanction:

14.1. It is incumbent on the prosecution to prove that the valid sanction has been granted by the sanctioning authority after being satisfied that a case for sanction has been made out.

14.2. The sanction order may expressly show that the sanctioning authority has perused the material placed before it and, after consideration of the circumstances, has granted sanction for prosecution.

14.3. The prosecution may prove by adducing the evidence that the material was placed before the sanctioning authority and its satisfaction was arrived at upon perusal of the material placed before it.

14.4. Grant of sanction is only an administrative function and the sanctioning authority is required to prima facie reach the satisfaction that relevant facts would constitute the offence.

14.5. The adequacy of material placed before the sanctioning authority cannot be gone into by the court as it does not sit in appeal over the sanction order.

14.6. If the sanctioning authority has perused all the materials placed before it and some of them have not been proved that would not vitiate the order of sanction.

14.7. The order of sanction is a prerequisite as it is intended to provide a safeguard to a public servant against frivolous and vexatious litigants, but simultaneously an order of sanction should not be construed in a pedantic manner and there should not be a hypertechnical approach to test its validity.

The contention of the Appellant, therefore, fails and is rejected.

Criminal Appeal No. 1781 of 2009

Decided On: 27.11.2019

Vinod Kumar Garg Vs. State (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi)

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Indu Malhotra and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ.

Citation: (2020) 2 SCC 88
read full judgment here: Click here
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