NEW DELHI: In what is sure to encourage whistleblowers, the Supreme Court has ruled that identity of persons who tip off anti-corruption agencies about corrupt deals of bureaucrats can never be revealed to the accused facing prosecution under Prevention of Corruption Act.
Anti-Corruption Bureau of Maharashtra had investigated a case of disproportionate assets against a public servant on the basis of a complaint filed by “unknown person” and chargesheeted the accused. The accused wanted a copy of the original complaint on the ground that it was essential for a fair trial.
Rejecting his plea, an apex court bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri said it failed to see how the accused was prejudiced by non-disclosure of the name of the person who sent the complaint and the original copy of the complaint received by the ACB.
“Situations are many where certain persons do not want to disclose the identity as well as the information/complaint passed on by them to the ACB. If the names of the persons, as well as the copy of the complaint sent by them are disclosed, that may cause embarrassment to them and sometimes threat to their lives,” said Justice Radhakrishnan, who authored the judgment for the bench.
The bench said what is to be borne in mind is that it was a complaint given by some person to the ACB which triggered the investigation. “Thus, this complaint simply provided information to the ACB and is not the foundation of the case or even the FIR,” it said.
On the case in hand, the bench said, “In fact, (after receiving the complaint) the ACB held its own independent investigation into the matter and collected the material which was forwarded to the home department and on that basis, challan (chargesheet) was filed in the court pointing out that sufficient material emerged on record as a result of the said investigation to proceed against the petitioner under PC Act.”
The ACB had accused Manjeet Singh Khera of having huge movable and immovable property in Mumbai, Aurangabad and Nagpur. Khera had wanted a copy of the original complaint to be produced in the court as well as the name of the person who had sent that complaint.
The bench, while dismissing Khera’s petition, said, “We are of the opinion that non-supply of the complaint or contents thereof, do not, at all, violate the principle of fair trial. The said complaint has no relevancy in the context of this prosecution and in no manner, it would prejudice the petitioner.”