New Delhi:  Indicting the PMO but letting the Prime Minister off lightly on failure to decide on prosecuting the then telecom minister A Raja in the 2G case, the Supreme Court on Tuesday set a limit of four months for deciding the issue of sanction for prosecution of corrupt public servants.

READ MORE: SC observation no setback: Centre

Allowing Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy's petition against the Delhi High Court judgement refusing to direct the Prime Minister on his plea for prosecution of Raja, the Apex Court upheld the right of a private citizen to seek sanction for prosecution of a public servant for corruption.

Rejecting Attorney General G E Vahanvati's arguments, a bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly held that Swamy had the locus standi to seek sanction.

The Apex Court blamed the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for sitting on the plea to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for granting sanction to prosecute Raja.

It said that those who were "duty bound" to apprise the Prime Minister about the "seriousness" of the allegations to enable him to take appropriate decision in the matter "failed" to do so.

"Unfortunately, those who were expected to give proper advice to Prime Minister and place full facts and legal position before him failed to do so.

"We have no doubt that if the Prime Minister had been apprised of the true factual and legal position regarding the representation made by the appellant, he would have surely taken appropriate decision and would not have allowed the matter to linger for a period of more than one year," the bench said.

PM vindicated, says PMO on SC observations

   
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Office welcomed the Apex Court’s decision and termed it vindication of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
       
The PMO said the directions of the Apex Court are being examined.
       
"We welcome the fact that both the learned judges (of the Supreme Court) have completely vindicated the Prime Minister whilst appreciating the onerous duties of his office," a statement issued by the PMO said.
       
The statement came after the Supreme Court observed: "We have no doubt that if the Prime Minister had been apprised of the true, factual and legal position regarding the representation made by the appellant, he would have surely taken appropriate decision and would not have allowed the matter to linger for a period of more than one year."
       
The court, at the same time, blamed the PMO for sitting on the plea to the Prime Minister for granting sanction to prosecute Raja in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
    
"Government is examining their (court's) directions regarding the manner in which applications are to be dealt with," the PMO said.

Congress, BJP slugfest over SC rap on PMO
       
The Supreme Court observations in the 2G Spectrum case on Tuesday saw BJP terming it the "second indictment" of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the CVC fiasco while Congress maintained that the court has not passed any strictures or declared any minister guilty.

BJP hoped that after the Supreme Court rap on the government on Tuesday, Singh will draw the "right lessons" and not defend any corrupt minister in future.

"Today's verdict of the Supreme Court is a severe indictment of the UPA government, particularly the functioning of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The application seeking prosecution of then Telecom Minister A Raja was kept pending for 16 months," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

He alleged that during that period, Singh gave "vague replies" to questions on Raja and insisted the CBI is looking into the matter.
   
"The Prime Minister then gave certificates of innocence to Raja and talked of coalition compulsions. Now, when the Supreme Court talks of a timeframe of three months- extendable by another month, it is a new milestone in the fight against corruption," Prasad said.

The party insisted that no Prime Minister can defend a corrupt minister in the face of available evidence.

"Will Manmohan Singh draw the right lessons. He had suffered severe embarassment in the case of CVC P J Thomas. This is his second indictment," Prasad alleged.

Hitting back at BJP, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said it was making too much out of the issue.

"No strictures have been passed against any individual, no minister has been found to be corrupt, nobody has been removed, nobody is said to have done something morally wrong," Singhvi said.

Team Anna welcomes SC order

Team Anna on Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court order that granting sanction of prosecution of a public servant should be done within a time frame, saying it has vindicated one of its key demands.

"Supreme court has vindicated one of our key demands of Jan Lokpal movement. (That is) time bound disposal of corruption cases," Kejriwal said.

Setting aside a Delhi High Court judgement refusing to give direction to the Prime Minister on the request for sanction of prosecution against the then Telecom Minister A Raja in the 2G scam case, the apex court held that if the sanction is not given within four months then it is deemed to have been granted.

(JPN/ Agencies)