Fighting against corruption is the flavor of the season. A constitution bench of the Supreme Court (SC) recently sought to know from the centre, a list of benefits it had obtained by insulating a small group of bureaucrats in corruption cases. The bench stated that the safeguard seemed to encourage corruption. This, despite the fact that in 1997, the apex court had struck down an earlier administrative order barring the CBI from initiating an inquiry into graft charges against joint secretaries and officials above that rank without the centre’s approval. However, the NDA government in 2003 introduced Section 6A in the Delhi Special Police
Establishment Act, bringing back the earlier mechanism into effect. The court enquired whether Section 6A had really improved governance, and sought justification for introducing it when Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act did the needful. Section 19 has barred courts from taking cognizance of an offence against serving bureaucrats without the centre’s approval. The centre argued this was done to avoid frivolous complaints and not to shield corrupt public servants. Will the SC buy that?