Govt nod not needed for prosecution of corrupt public servants: SC

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New Delhi, Jan 20 (UNI) The Supreme Court has ruled that illegal acts of public servants have no connection with discharge of official duties and, therefore, no sanction is required under section 197 CrPC for prosecution of the corrupt and deliquent ones.

A bench comprising Justices G P Mathur and Aftab Alam directed a trial court to go ahead with the trial of seven people, including two doctors of a blood bank in Nagpur involved in the scandal of supplying HIV contaminated blood to government hospitals and colleges in the area.

Many patients tested HIV+ after the blood was transfused to patients.

During investigation, the Nagpur police found the blood bank records tampered and seven people, including Dr P P Sancheti and Devahari Deva Singh Pawar, Dr Prakash Chandra and Pradhya Sudhakar Phadnavis, chargesheeted by the police.

The accused were not charged with forgery despite interpolations having been found in the official records. Torn pages of the Blood Bank registers were recovered from Dr Sancheti's residence during raids. They were also charged with an offence under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

The additional chief judicial magistrate, Nagpur, quashed the proceedings against the accused as no sanction under section 197 was obtained by the government. A Sessions court reversed the order which was, however, restored by the Bombay High Court, dropping the criminal proceedings against the accused.

State of Maharashtra came in appeal to the Supreme Court against the high court order dated April 20, 2005.

The apex court, in its judgement dated January 18, said,''We fail to see how tampering with the entries made in the official registers, tearing their pages and stowing them away in one's house can be related to the discharge of official duties. We do not have the slightest doubt that the allegations made against the accused related to acts that had no connection to the discharge of their duties and, therefore, the prosecution has no need of any sanction under 197 of the Code." The apex court, while allowing the appeal of the state government and setting aside the impugned order of the High Court, also observed, ''A substantial part of cases against the accused does not require any sanction for their prosecution. The facts of the case do not warrant any piecemeal quashing or discharge of the accused. We, therefore, consider it appropriate and just that the trial of the accused should be allowed to proceed without any hindrance." The apex court, however, left open the question of sanction open for prosecution of the accused under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

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