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Criminal Lawyer: Sec 197 Cr.P.C. protection not available to public servants working in PSU; SC.

Supreme Court of India

Justice Navin Sinha and Justice A.S. Bopanna

The SC {BHARAT SANCHAR NIGAM LIMITED AND OTHERS v. PRAMOD V. SAWANT AND ANOTHER} holds in the said case that the question for grant of sanction for prosecution under Section 197, Cr.P.C. on the ground of being a ‘public servant’ is not available to appellants nos.3 and 4 on account of their ceasing to be employees of the Indian   Telecommunication   Service   after   their   absorption   in   the appellant Corporation on 01.10.2000, prior to the complaint. The fact that their past service may count for purposes of pension in  case   of   removal   or   dismissal   by   the   Corporation   or   that administrative approval of the concerned ministry may be formally required before any punitive action will not confer on them the status of ‘public servant’ under the Cr.P.C. 

Before SC earlier in  Mohd.   Hadi   Raja  v.  State   of   Bihar  the question   arose   whether Section 197   CrPC   was applicable   for   prosecuting   officers   of   the   public sector undertakings or the government companies which can be treated as State within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India. The Court referred to Section   197   CrPC,   noted   the submissions   and   eventually   held   that   the protection by way of sanction under Section 197 CrPC is not applicable to the officers of government companies or the public undertakings even when such   public   undertakings   are   “State”   within   the meaning   of   Article   12   of   the   Constitution   on account   of   deep   and   pervasive   control   of   the Government. Accordingly, the appeal of the appellants was dismissed - by holding that prior sanction is not required before prosecution.

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