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SC Constitution Bench to deliver verdict on Monday if immunity against arrest will apply retrospectively


New Delhi, Sep 10 (IANS) A 5-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on Monday on the question if the apex court’s earlier judgment, which had struck down immunity given to senior public officials against arrest in corruption cases, will have retrospective application.

As per the causelist published on the website of the apex court, a unanimous judgment, authored by Justice Vikram Nath, is expected to be delivered on Monday.

The Constitution Bench, also comprising Justices S.K. Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S. Oka. and J.K. Maheshwari, had reserved its verdict in November last year after hearing the parties.

In 2016, a reference was made to a larger bench by a two-judge bench to examine if the judgment of the Supreme Court taking away the immunity given to officers of the level of Joint Secretary and above under Section 6A (1) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 against arrest in relation to corruption charges will have retrospective application.

Section 6A (1) mandated that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will have to obtain mandatory approval from the Union government to continue any inquiry or investigation, including arrest, against officers of the level of Joint Secretary and above who are booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

In 2014, a 5-judge Constitution Bench had struck down the section for offending the right to equality. The judgment did not explicitly lay down as to whether the decision of the Supreme Court will extend to those cases of corruption which were registered by the CBI against senior officials before the provision granting immunity was struck down.

The judgment will be crucial as Article 20 of the Constitution provides that a person cannot be convicted of any offence except for violation of the law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence. In simple terms, it means that if an act is not an offence at the date of its commission, it cannot be an offence at a later date subsequent to its commission.

Also, Article 20 says that a person cannot be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence.


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