PRIOR APPROVAL UNDER PCA (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     17th January 2024        

Context: Recently, the Supreme Court rendered a split verdict on former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s petition seeking to dismiss an FIR related to the alleged skill development scam case.

Prior Approval

  • Amendment to Delhi Special Police Establishment Act: In 2003, an amendment was made to the DSPE Act, 1946, governing agencies like the CBI. 

oThe amendment introduced Section 6A, which mandated seeking approval from the central government before investigating alleged offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), 1988, if the involved employee held a rank higher than joint secretary.

  • Supreme Court's 2014: In 2014, the Supreme Court struck down the requirement outlined in Section 6A, rendering it unnecessary to seek approval from the central government before investigating corruption allegations against employees holding ranks higher than joint secretary.
  • Introduction of Section 17A: This section mandated obtaining approval from the central/state government or a competent authority to initiate an inquiry or investigation if a public servant committed an offence under the Act while discharging official duties.
  • NGO Challenge: In 2018, the NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) challenged the constitutionality of the approval requirement. 

oThe CPIL argued that placing the burden on investigators to obtain approval before conducting an inquiry would protect corrupt officials, leading to an increase in corruption levels.

  • Supreme Court's Review of 'Previous Approval': In July 2023, a Bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and Sanjay Karol reviewed the case involving the challenge to the 'previous approval' requirement in Section 17A of the PCA.

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