Rema Nagarajan| TNN | 

Eight years after the Medical Council of India (MCI) headed by him was dissolved by the government for corruption charges, corruption cases against Dr Ketan Desaicontinue to be dropped because sanction for his prosecution has been refused. The latest such instance was in the Patiala House court last month. While the CBI had filed a chargesheet in the case, it informed the court that the State of Gujarat, the competent authority in this case, had declined sanction to prosecute.
Under the law, public servants above a certain level can be prosecuted under Section 197 CrPC or Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act only after obtaining sanction from the “competent authority”.

On August 17, the CBI counsel showed the Patiala House court the Gujarat government’s order declining sanction. Earlier, on May 29, the court had been told that the Delhi High Court had directed that proceedings against Dr Desai should be dropped till sanction to prosecute was received from the competent authority.

On August 18, the court ruled that while proceedings against Desai would have to be dropped in the absence of the sanction, the four others who are co-accused in the case will be prosecuted. Thus, despite having filed a detailed 143-page chargesheet against the five accused on September 6, 2011, the CBI had to drop all proceedings against accused no.1, Dr Desai.

In the Delhi High Court, Desai’s lawyers had cited a 2015 order of the Special CBI Judge, Lucknow which had dropped proceedings against him till CBI received sanction from the competent authority to prosecute him. They had argued that the same principle should apply to the case being heard in the Delhi courts.

The CBI sought disposal of the petition by the Delhi high court “with the liberty to the respondent CBI to obtain the sanction”. On February 12, 2018, the HC ruled, like the Lucknow court, that proceedings against Dr Desai were dropped till sanction was received but the trial would re-commence once sanction was received. The CBI did not respond to TOI’s queries about the competent authority and the grounds on which sanction was declined.