Sikkim notification on corruption probes by CBI challenged

New Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the central and Sikkim governments and the CBI on a plea seeking the quashing of a notification requiring prior sanction of the state government for probing complaints of corruption against its functionaries and employees.

A bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice H.L. Gokhale issued notice on a petition by Delay Namgyal Barfugpa seeking the quashing of July 21, 2010 notification.
The petitioner alleged that this was issued to thwart the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and other ministers in his government for their alleged involvement in corrupt practices.
Prior to the notification there was a general consent under which CBI could proceed against any official of the state or the central government in the state without any sanction.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel Raju Ramachandran told the court that they have moved the court as it is matter of utmost public importance.
He told the court that the decision of the state government to restrict the jurisdiction of the CBI on the basis of the requirement of prior sanction and refusal to accord such consent against the chief minister was vitiated by malafide (bad faith).
Senior lawyer Ram Jethamalani, appearing for the Sikkim government, opposed the petition saying that it was politically motivated case but the court observed that it was not getting any picture of it being a political case.
Senior counsel K.K.Venugopal, appearing for Chamling, told the court that the petition was against the refusal of Right to Information (RTI) application against the chief minister and thus they should go before the appropriate appellate forum under the RTI Act.
In reply to the RTI application, the Sikkim government had taken a stand that chief minister was in the exempted category.
The court too was not impressed by the plea of the state’s Advocate General A. Mariarputham that the state government has already instituted an inquiry into the matter and there was no need for probe by CBI. The inquiry was under the State government, the court observed.
The petition said that the initial CBI probe has found that Chamling and legislators, during the period 1999-2009 “had indulged in various corrupt practices including the commission of criminal misconduct and acquisition of disproportionate assets”.