As a private citizen, what can you do to have a minister or public servant investigated for corruption?
The Prime Minister has approved an important amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act. The changes cleared by him recommend that after a citizen files a complaint, the authority concerned - in most cases the personnel ministry - has to decide within three months whether or not to sanction prosecution. However, the sanction can only be granted if a police complaint has been filed by a private citizen or if the appropriate court has taken cognizance of a complaint.
According to the current Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the prosecution of any public servant has to be sanctioned by the appropriate administrative authority. For a cabinet minister, the PM has to sign off.
In his advice to the government, Attorney General GE Vahanvati writes, "Cognizance is when the court has applied its mind to the contents of the complaint and is of the view that there is a case to be tried." It is only after this, he says, that the competent authority needs to make up its mind within three months.
The PM's approval to the changes mean that the Department of Personnel will now prepare a note for the cabinet that will explain the proposed amendment. Then the amendment will have to be voted on by parliament.
In January, the Supreme Court faulted the Prime Minister's office for waiting for nearly 16 months to decide on whether to allow the prosecution of A Raja. Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy, had in 2010, asked for the sanction against Mr Raja, who was then telecom minister. The court ruled that sanction must be decided within three months. The judges also pulled up officials in the Prime Minister's office, stating that the "concerned officers in the Prime Minister's Office kept the matter pending and then took the shelter of the fact that the CBI had registered the case and the investigation was pending." However, they did not blame the Prime Minister.
Edited by Prasad Sanyal