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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 18:04 GMT
Law targets corrupt politicians
Laloo Prasad Yadav [Pic: Prashant Ravi]
Railway minister Yadav is fighting corruption charges Pic: Prashant Ravi
The Indian Supreme Court has made it easier to prosecute politicians accused of corruption.

In a landmark ruling, the court said prosecutors did not need prior permission to begin proceedings against politicians facing corruption charges.

Until now, assent was needed from the parliament Speaker or a state governor to charge an MP or a state legislator.

Corruption is rampant in India and several high-profile politicians have been accused in corruption cases.

'Time-saver'

The Supreme Court announced its judgement while dismissing petitions filed by the federal Railways Minister, Laloo Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and former chief minister of Punjab state, Prakash Singh Badal.

In their petitions, the politicians argued that the prosecution must have permission from the competent authority before filing corruption charges against them.

Mr Yadav's lawyer, Pradeep Rai, told reporters in Delhi: "[The] Supreme Court has clearly stated that there is no need to take a sanction in a case of corruption."

The high-profile railways minister is accused of "amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income" when he was chief minister of Bihar state. He denies wrongdoing. A court in the eastern city of Patna is due to announce a verdict on 18 December.

Analysts say Wednesday's judgement is significant as the investigating agency will now save time by not having to seek permission to begin proceedings against allegedly corrupt politicians.

The court, however, said prosecuting agencies would still need prior permission in cases where a politician is accused of crimes other than corruption.




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