The Central Vigilance Commission welcomed Tuesday's Supreme Court order setting a timeline for giving prosecution sanction in cases against public servants.
"Sanctioning of prosecution by competent authority within a timeframe of four months will be a big help in fighting corruption, and will expedite action against corrupt public officials," CVC Pradeep Kumar told TOI.
The CVC's response came in the wake of the Supreme Court saying that "delay in granting such sanction has spoilt many valid prosecution and is adversely viewed in public mind that in the name of considering a prayer for sanction, a protection is given to a corrupt public official as a quid pro quo for services rendered by the public official in the past or may be in the future and the sanctioning authority and the corrupt officials were or are partners in the same misdeeds".
The CVC has been at the receiving end of delaying tactics adopted by various departments to stall prosecution of officials against whom corruption proceedings are pending. As of December 2011, prosecution sanction was pending in at least 24 cases for more than four months.
In November, there were 28 cases pending with 17 ministries for over four months. The highest, of 10 pending cases, was with the finance ministry - four of them before the Central Board of Direct Taxes and four of them before the Central Board of Excise and Customs.
Some of them are plain bizarre, such as that of Baldev Singh Sandhu, an IRS officer of 1981 batch who was commissioner of income tax in Ahmedabad. His prosecution was proposed on July 13, 2009, but till date, CBDT has not given the sanction. In case of Vivek Batra, a joint commissioner of income tax, the CVC recommended prosecution on November 30, 2010. It is still pending.
In case of G J Rao, a former deputy chairman of Chennai Port Trust, the shipping ministry has been sitting on a recommendation for prosecution since November 16, 2010.
CVC sources said they regularly write to the departments concerned but in most cases, the responses are not forthcoming.
The Supreme Court order has suggested that the government look at amending Section 19 of Prevention of Corruption Act, under which prosecution sanction is required in case of public servants. Until the Act is amended, the CVC will have to wait for department sanctions.