Sunday, October 1, 2023

Supreme Court Constitution Bench likely to deliver verdict on immunity from arrest case

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The Supreme Court is expected to deliver on September 11, its verdict in the case related to whether striking down a provision granting immunity from arrest would have a retrospective effect in view of the rights protected under Article 20 of the Constitution. 

The Constitution Bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and also comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice Abhay S. Oka, Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J.K. Maheshwari will deliver the judgement on Monday in the case CBI vs Dr RR Kishore. 

The case pertained to the then Chief District Medical Officer in the Government of NCT of Delhi, Dr R R Kishore, who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation while accepting illegal gratification for grant of a No Objection Certificate (NOC). 

Dr Kishore challenged the arrests on the grounds that the arrest was meticulously pre-planned, and did not enjoy the exception under Section 6A(2) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.

As per Section 6A(2) of the Act, prior approval was not required if an arrest was made on the spot while accepting or attempting to receive a bribe.

However, Section 6A(1) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment provided immunity from arrest for officers of the Joint Secretary level.

The Delhi High Court had ruled that the CBI had started investigation before the arrest, and therefore, did not fall under the Section 6A(2) exception.

The High Court, while refusing to discharge Dr Kishore in the case, directed the national agency to seek the Union government’s approval and begin reinvestigation. 

On January 3, 2007, CBI filed an appeal before the top court.

On November 1, 2022, the Supreme Court commenced hearing in the case. The top court of the country heard submissions made by the parties, including respondent-in-person Dr Kishore, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar and Senior Advocate Amit Desai.  

In 2016, the Apex Court referred the case to a five-Judge Constitution Bench to decide whether the removal of immunity to Central government employees at the Joint Secretary level would apply retrospectively.

The Apex Court would now delve upon whether there could be a deprivation of such immunity by a retrospective operation of a Court verdict, in the context of Article 20 of the Constitution?

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