The High Court of Karnataka has quashed the cognizance taken by a Magistrate court in 24 criminal cases against a former executive officer of a Panchayat as there was no sanction obtained for prosecution from the competent authority in any of the cases.
The Court also directed the authorities to decide on granting sanction for prosecution against government officers within six months of such requests being made. ”In the wake of such litigation being generated on indecisiveness of respective Competent Authorities either on the ignorance of the Investigating Agency in not requesting for sanction or the indecisiveness of the respective Competent Authorities in not passing necessary orders, I deem it appropriate to observe that the concerned Competent Authority shall henceforth decide on the requisition sent by the Investigating agency, with an outer limit of six months, if not earlier, as only on account of want of sanction the proceedings are quashed even in cases where corruption is the allegation,” it said M S Faneesha was the executive officer of Arakalagudu Taluk Panchayat in Hassan district. He is currently working as a senior lecturer in Tavaradevarakoppalu. When he was the panchayat officer in 2009-10 MGNREGA works were implemented in Arakalagudu. It was alleged that Faneesha had executed works without clearances from respective departments and caused loss to the Government. After five years of investigation, charge sheets were filed against him in the 24 cases in 2016.
A departmental inquiry was also initiated simultaneously and the inquiry officer held in 2020 that the charges against him were not proved and no loss was caused to the State exchequer. Based on that, Faneesha approached the HC against the criminal cases in 2022. Justice M Nagaprasanna heard the batch of 24 criminal petitions and gave his judgment recently.
The Court found that the sanction for prosecuting a public servant from the competent authority was not obtained in any of the 24 cases filed against Faneesha.
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The HC said that, ”The State or the Competent Authority cannot sit over the files for sanction for months together and ‘contend not taking any decision is also a decision’.” The Court said that instead of the ”Government putting up vehement opposition before this Court through its counsel, it would be imperative for the Competent Authority to pass orders on the requisitions for such sanction either granting or refusing and the necessary Investigating Agencies send such requisitions whenever necessary.” While the cognizance was quashed the HC said that the trial court ”shall proceed with the proceedings in all these criminal cases against the petitioner only after the prosecution places on record, sanction for prosecuting the petitioner before the concerned Court from the hands of the Competent Authority.”