Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act


A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has determined that its 2014 judgment, which invalidated Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act governing the CBI, will apply retrospectively from the date the provision (6A) was introduced in 2003. Section 6A mandated that any inquiry into corruption allegations involving officials holding the rank of Joint Secretary and above could only commence after obtaining approval from the Central government.


  • GS2- Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies.
    Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  • GS4-Probity in Governance: Information Sharing and Transparency in Government, Challenges of Corruption.

Mains Question:

Highlighting the evolution of Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, analyse its applicability today. (15 marks, 250 words)

Evolution of Section 6A:

  • It was introduced with the intention of reinstating the Centre’s ‘Single Directive,’ a set of guidelines to the CBI regarding the procedures for conducting an investigation.
  • In the landmark Vineet Narain case of 1997, the Supreme Court had invalidated the directive, arguing that administrative instructions cannot hinder a statutory investigation.
  • Six years later, Section 6A was enacted to reintroduce the requirement of prior approval.
  • However, in 2014, the Court also struck down this section, stating that it violated the principle of equality by offering protection only to a specific group of public servants, rather than to all.
  • The recent judgment dismisses arguments from individuals under investigation who sought the protection of Section 6A because they were charged with offenses dating back to a period when the provision was in effect before the 2014 judgment.
  • The Court has reaffirmed that post-constitution laws cannot be in conflict with the Constitution, and when declared as such by a court, they are invalidated from their inception.

Efficacy of the Judgment now:

  • The impact of the judgment is currently limited, as it will only affect allegations that pertain to the period between 2003 and 2014.
  • The current legal framework has undergone significant changes. In 2018, when the Prevention of Corruption Act was amended, Section 17A was introduced, making the government’s prior approval a mandatory prerequisite before initiating any investigation into decisions or recommendations made by a public servant.
  • This initial filtering process has been implemented even though obtaining sanction is still necessary for prosecuting any public servant when the trial court takes cognizance of the charge sheet.


Requiring prior approval for the initiation of an anti-corruption investigation is not inherently desirable. In its 2014 judgment, the Court had noted that such provisions undermine the objectives of anti-corruption laws, obstruct the revelation of the truth, and sometimes serve as an advance warning to officials implicated as soon as allegations are raised against them. While it may be necessary to have safeguards to screen out frivolous inquiries into the actions of public servants who make important and bona fide decisions, it is equally important for the public interest that these provisions do not become a protective shield for those engaging in unscrupulous activities.

May 2024