I am an executive of a Nationalised Bank. I have been charge sheeted under section 465, 468, 471 of IPC for an alleged offence. However no prosecution permission was obtained. Please reply whether it is legally valid?
Answer: Necessity for obtaining sanction (or permission) for prosecution arises only when there is a requirement for the same under some law. In the case of an officer or employee of a nationalised bank, who is being charge sheeted for an offence only under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), there is no requirement under law for obtaining sanction for prosecution.
In such types of cases, need for sanction for prosecution may generally arise under two legal provisions:
(1) Under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
(2) Under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.).
In the facts of the case mentioned by you, both these provisions would not apply and sanction for prosecution would not be required. Let me explain.
No doubt, employees of a nationalised bank are “public servants” within the meaning of its definition under Section 2(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Therefore, if such a bank employee is charge sheeted under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, there may be a need to obtain sanction for prosecution if the employee has not retired at the time of charge sheet. However, you have stated that you have been charge sheeted only for offences under IPC and not under Prevention of Corruption Act. Therefore, sanction for prosecution under PC Act would not be needed.
To see why sanction under Section 197 of Cr.P.C. would not be needed, we may refer to its relevant extract:
“197. Prosecution of Judges and public servants.— (1) When any person who is or was a Judge or Magistrate or a public servant not removable from his office save by or with the sanction of the Government is accused of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty, no Court shall take cognizance of such offence except with the previous sanction save as otherwise provided in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013—
(a) in the case of person who is employed or, as the case may be, was at the time of commission of the alleged offence employed, in connection with the affairs of the Union, of the Central Government;
(b) in the case of a person who is employed or, as the case may be, was at the time of commission of the alleged offence employed, in connection with the affairs of a State, of the State Government: …”.
From Section 197 of Cr.P.C., as extracted above, it is quite clear that one of the essential requirements is that sanction would be needed only if public servant can be removed from his office only by or with the sanction of the Government (Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be). In this section, “Government” implies the President or the Governor, as the case may be.
However, in the case of a bank employee or officer, he can be removed by the bank management itself and it is not that he can be removed from his office only by or with the sanction of the Government. Therefore, sanction for prosecution under Section 197 of Cr.P.C. would also not be needed.
In view of the above, it should be unequivocally clear that sanction for prosecution is not required when a bank officer is charge sheeted for offences only under the IPC, such as 465, 468, 471 of IPC in your case.