SC strikes down Top Babus' shield

In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court gave the CBI a free hand to inquire into corruption charges against top bureaucrats by striking down a law that mandated the agency to seek the Centre’s nod before investigating officers of the rank of joint secretary and above.
Delivering the judgment which will leave the bureaucracy anguished, a five-judge constitution bench comprising Chief Justice R M Lodha and Justices A K Patnaik, S J Mukhopadhaya, Dipak Misra and F M I Kalifulla unanimously ruled that Section 6A in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act was invalid as it seriously violated the fundamental right to equality before law guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution.
“The aim and object of an investigation is ultimately to search for truth and any law that impedes that object may not stand the test of Article 14,” Justice Lodha, who wrote the order for the bench, said.
The bench said corruption was the nation’s enemy and Prevention of Corruption Act mandated tracking down the corrupt and punishing them.
This is the third time the apex court has overturned a legislative action to fetter the CBI from inquiring against senior bureaucrats. On December 18, 1997, the court had struck down the ‘single directive’ provision in the Vineet Narain judgment. However, the “shield” for bureaucrats was restored when the Centre promulgated an ordinance on August 25, 1998.
While the SC’s intervention saw the provision deleted from the ordinance, the NDA government on September 12, 2003, inserted Section 6A in the DSPE Act, which governs the CBI, to debar the agency from inquiring against top babus for corruption charges without prior permission of the Centre. 

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