The existing four-month limit for obtaining a sanction on prosecuting allegedly corrupt government employees is "unworkable", Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary has said, suggesting that the period be extended by three months.
In an interview to PTI, he said the Commission would soon approach the Supreme Court to seek its nod on its proposal to extend the time limit.
The sanction of prosecution against government employees allegedly involved in graft needs to be decided within three months, the Supreme Court had held.
An additional one month may be allowed where consultation is required with the Attorney General or any other law officer in the AG's office.
The issue of whether an officer can be prosecuted or not has to be decided within a maximum period of four months.
"This four-month period is not a workable time limit. Three plus one is the present one. Six plus one, probably... But we are leaving it to the court," Chowdary said, adding that it would mean "instead of having an unworkable time, we have a reasonable time."
He said the Commission's law officer was vetting the proposal.
"It (the time limit) has to be increased particularly in the case of all India services officers (Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service)," Chowdary said.
He pointed out that several people were involved in processing cases of sanction of prosecution against all India services officers.
"The state government is involved. The department of Personnel and Training (nodal authority on anti-corruption matters) is involved. The ministry in which he (the officer) is there is involved. The CBI is involved. Law opinion is required," he said.
"The very routine movement takes a lot of time," Chowdary added.
The grant of sanction is an administrative act and the purpose is to protect the public servant from harassment by frivolous or vexatious prosecution and not to shield the corrupt, the probity watchdog had said in a directive.
Sanction for prosecuting an employee is sought from the government, through the CVC, by the CBI. The deadline starts ticking from the time the sanction is sought.
In 2016, the CBI had referred 638 officials of all categories in various organisations for sanction of prosecution.
"The CBI reported that at the end of the year 2016, 126 cases were pending for grant of sanction for prosecution under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988," the CVC said in its annual report for 2016.
Sanction is pending for more than four months in 40 cases involving over 70 government officials, the CVC's latest data said.
Of these, five cases are pending with different union territories, four each with defence and personnel ministries, three with the government of Uttar Pradesh and two each with the Industry and Railways ministries, it said.
One case each is pending with the Indian Overseas Bank, Canara Bank, Punjab National Bank, Central Bank of India, Andhra Bank, Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, Industrial Development Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Department of Economic Affairs and Corporate Affairs Ministry, among others, the CVC said.