More than 250 officers involved in cases of misuse of funds, dereliction of duty and moral turpitude; 61 officers named in FIRs by anti-corruption branch; nine charge-sheeted and one officer convicted.
This is the track record of group A and B officers of Delhi government’s various departments during 2005-2010, as revealed by a reply from the directorate of vigilance to a query under the Right to Information act (RTI).
According to the reply, 277 officers were involved in cases ranging from misuse of funds to sexual offences in the five years. Also, 143 officials face criminal charges under various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC). Cases under Prevention of Corruption act (PoC) are read with provisions of IPC, too.
However, according to the Delhi government’s anti-corruption branch (ACB) — as part of the same RTI reply — although 61 group A and B officers were found involved in 37 corruption cases registered with it, only nine were charge-sheeted or penalised in six cases. And only one was convicted during 2005-2010.
Said Anisha Ghosh from NGO Pratidhi, who filed the RTI: “While dealing with department of social welfare earlier, we realised the problems in the procedure that is followed through which the guilty are punished, rather not punished easily. This prompted us to dig further.”
Explained a senior government official: “There is a perennial shortage of resources. It starts from verifying authenticity of the complainant. Then, once prima facie a case is made out, collecting all relevant
documents in original, corroborating the allegations/misuse etc — all such things are time-consuming. Moreover, after the case is sent to ACB, investigation at their end too takes time.”
There are several instances wherein departmental actions have been taken, but in cases of corruption, the cases are referred to the ACB. But even to file an FIR in a corruption case, except for trap cases, the ACB officials need to take permission from Delhi government.
“After the FIR, the ACB completes investigation, then under section 19 of the PoC act, sanction for prosecution is a mandatory requirement," sources from the anti-corruption branch said adding, “Otherwise, the courts will not take cognisance of the case.”
Explained the official: “Clearance for filing an FIR or obtaining a prosecution sanction is necessary because at times the accused or the
government department involved may have a plausible explanation for the act that is deemed as corrupt or exceeding the official's brief.”
Even in case of departmental action, the procedure is long drawn. Under rule 16 of service rules, imposition of minor
penalty means only a warning and/or censure.