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Delhi Special Police Establishment Act

The article discusses the recent Supreme Court judgment in India regarding Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946. The judgment rules that the invalidation of Section 6A, which required government sanction for investigating corruption cases against senior officials, applies retrospectively from 2003.

What is the context?

The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946 is a law that governs the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Section 6A of the DSPE Act required the CBI to obtain prior sanction from the central government before investigating corruption cases against officials of the rank of Joint Secretary and above. The provision was introduced in 2003 to restore the Centre’s “Single Directive”, a set of instructions to the CBI on the modalities of holding an inquiry.

In 2014, the Supreme Court struck down Section 6A of the DSPE Act, holding that it violated the norm of equality by extending its protection only to a class of public servants and not everyone. The Court also held that the provision was arbitrary and unreasonable.

Latest Judgment

In a landmark judgment on September 12, 2023, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has ruled that its 2014 verdict invalidating Section 6A of the DSPE Act will have retrospective effect from the day the provision was introduced in 2003.

This means that the CBI can now investigate corruption cases against senior officials without having to seek prior sanction from the government. This is a major victory for the fight against corruption, as it will help to ensure that no one is above the law, regardless of their position or rank.

Significance of the Judgment
  • The judgment is significant for a number of reasons. First, it clarifies the law on the retrospective effect of Supreme Court judgments. The Court has held that its judgments have retrospective effect unless there are cogent reasons to the contrary. In this case, the Court found no such reasons, and therefore the invalidation of Section 6A will apply to all cases, even those that were pending before the 2014 judgment.
  • Second, the judgment sends a strong message that the Supreme Court is committed to the fight against corruption. The Court has made it clear that it will not tolerate any attempts to shield corrupt officials from the law.
  • Third, the judgment sets an important precedent for the future. It shows that the Supreme Court is willing to strike down unconstitutional laws, even if they have been in force for many years. This is a positive development, as it will help to ensure that the law is applied fairly and consistently.
Limitations of the Judgment
  • The judgment is not without its limitations. First, it will only impact allegations that date back to the period between 2003 and 2014. This means that it will not apply to cases that were filed after 2014.
  • Second, the judgment does not address the issue of corruption by lower-level officials. This is a significant issue, as it is often the lower-level officials who are most corrupt.
Way Forward

The judgment is a major step in the right direction, but there is still more work to be done. The government should take steps to close the loopholes in the anti-corruption laws and make it easier to investigate and prosecute corruption cases. The Supreme Court should also continue to strike down unconstitutional laws that shield corrupt officials from the law.

The fight against corruption is a long and difficult one, but this judgment is a major step in the right direction. It sends a strong message that no one is above the law, and that those who engage in corruption will be brought to justice.

The judgment is a victory for the CBI, which has long been criticized for its inability to investigate corruption cases against senior officials.
The judgment is likely to have a significant impact on the fight against corruption in India. It will make it easier for the CBI to investigate and prosecute corruption cases against senior officials, and it will send a strong message that no one is above the law.
The government should take steps to implement the judgment and ensure that it is fully effective. This includes providing the CBI with the resources it needs to investigate and prosecute corruption cases, and amending the anti-corruption laws to close any loopholes that may exist.

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