CHENNAI: The Madras high court has quashed a portion of a GO, which mandated getting remarks from government before ordering an appropriate enquiry by Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption on complaints of corruption against public servants irrespective of their ranks. Allowing a petition from advocate P.Pugalenthi, a Division Bench comprising the Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R.Mahadevan quashed paragraph 4 of the G.O dated February 2, 2016.
The court said it was the own case of the state government that allegation of corruption like demand and acceptance of bribe, possession of disproportionate assets and cases involving trap and arrest would not require obtaining of what was referred to as remarks of government and the department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption was well within its powers to commence enquiry. “It is hard to frankly understand that if this be the position, then what is the purpose of para-4, as it refers to “allegations of corruption against public servants” and follows with “relating to acts made in official capacity”.
On one hand, this is the stand sought to be taken. On the other hand, after instructions, Advocate general submits that even for holding a preliminary enquiry, the remarks are to be called for mandatorily. It is nobody’s case that in the process of carrying out a preliminary enquiry, information cannot be sought for. In fact, even records can be sought for and witnesses identified. The purpose is to determine whether there is any grain of truth in the allegations, but that is the job of the police officer. The power of the police officer, however sought to be restricted by superimposing a requirement of a mandatory prior remarks “before ordering an appropriate enquiry by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption”, the bench added.
The bench said if offences were made out under the said Act on the complaint, preliminary enquiry is held. During preliminary enquiry, the police officer would take necessary precautions to locate the relevant material. Undoubtedly, the expression used was “remarks” and not “prior permission”. But, really speaking there would be no purpose of the mandatory requirement of such remarks which may themselves delay the investigation process even of a preliminary enquiry.
The fact was that the procedure prescribes a mandate on the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-corruption to first forward the complaints to the Vigilance Commission, which in turn, to obtain remarks of the government and thereafter, apply their mind and forward the result to DVAC before DVAC can exercise its jurisdiction. “In our view, this is not permissible”, the Bench added....