Supreme Court Decision: Section 6A Retroactive Validity

  Sep 15, 2023

Supreme Court's Ruling on Section 6A

What is the recent ruling of the Supreme Court regarding Section 6A?

A1: The Supreme Court's Constitution Bench ruled that the 2014 verdict, which invalidated Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, will have a retrospective effect from 2003, the year the provision was introduced.

What was Section 6A?

A2: Section 6A stipulated that any investigation into corruption charges against officials of the rank of Joint Secretary and above could only commence after receiving approval from the Central government. This provision was introduced to reinstate the Centre's 'Single Directive', a set of instructions to the CBI regarding the procedures for conducting an inquiry.

What was the background of this provision?

A3: The provision was introduced to restore the 'Single Directive' which was struck down by the Supreme Court in the Vineet Narain case in 1997.
The court had ruled that a statutory investigation could not be hindered by administrative instructions.

Why was Section 6A struck down in 2014?

A4: In 2014, the Supreme Court invalidated Section 6A, holding that it violated the principle of equality by offering protection only to a specific class of public servants, thereby not being inclusive of everyone.

What is the significance of the latest judgment?

A5: The latest judgment maintains that laws post-Constitution cannot contradict the Constitution. If a court declares them inconsistent with the Constitution, the invalidation takes effect from their inception.
This ruling implies that individuals facing investigations for offenses predating the 2014 judgment cannot seek protection under Section 6A.

How does this judgment affect current laws?

A6: The judgment primarily affects allegations from the period between 2003 and 2014. In 2018, the Prevention of Corruption Act was amended to introduce Section 17A, necessitating government approval before initiating any probe into the decisions or recommendations made by a public servant.

What was the court's stance on provisions requiring prior approval for initiating anti-corruption probes?

A7: The court, in its 2014 judgment, noted that such provisions could obstruct the objectives of anti-corruption laws, potentially preventing the truth from emerging and sometimes forewarning the involved officials as soon as allegations are raised against them.

While it acknowledged the need for safeguards against frivolous inquiries, it emphasized that these provisions should not protect unscrupulous individuals.


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