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Court directive to Centre on CVC Act

By Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi Nov. 3. The Supreme Court today directed the Centre to file its response in four weeks on an application seeking a stay of the "single directive" in the Central Vigilance Commission Act, under which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was required to take prior approval of the Central Government for embarking on any inquiry or investigation against senior bureaucrats.

A three-Judge Bench, comprising the Chief Justice V.N. Khare, Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, gave this direction to the Solicitor-General, Kirit Raval, after amicus curiae in the case, Anil Divan, pleaded for a stay of the provisions.

Mr. Divan who has been appointed amicus curiae in the petition filed by the Janata Party president, Subramanian Swamy, in 1997 in his application brought to the notice of the court the notification of the CVC Act, 2003, after it received President's assent on September 11.

He said the apex court in the "Vineet Narain case" had struck down the "single directive" but it had been restored in the CVC Act. He said that by Sec. 26 (c ) certain amendments had been made in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act by inserting a new Sec. 6 A. (The CBI has been constituted under this Act).

He said the CBI had been investigating the cases without any impediment of prior sanction from the Central Government since December 18, 1997, when the apex court delivered its judgment.

He said the present proceedings were inter-connected with the "Vineet Narain case" and formed part of a continuing mandamus to monitor and ensure independent, unbiased and unhindered investigation and enforcement of the law by investigative agencies. The amendments to the CVC Act had revived the core provisions of the single directive by which the CBI could not even embark on an inquiry or investigation without prior approval of the Central Government in relation to certain highly placed bureaucrats above the rank of Joint Secretaries. He said that though these provisions were not incorporated in the CVC Bill 1999, they had found their place in the 2003 Act.

Mr. Divan argued that by incorporating these provisions there was no confidentiality and insulation of the investigative agency from political and bureaucratic control and influence because approval of the Central Government would involve leaks and disclosures at every stage.

He said the criminal-bureaucrat-politician nexus, which was subverting the whole polity, would be taken into account in granting or refusing prior approval before an inquiry or investigation could take place.

He argued that the status quo prevailing from December 18, 1997 till date was in favour of the CBI being allowed to function without any prior approval of the Central Government. He said that during this period, various bureaucrats had been investigated and arrested, and prayed for staying the "single directive" provision.

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