In a bid to tackle inordinate delays in corruption cases, ACB top officials have instructed superintendents of police of anti-corruption bureaus (ACB) across Maharashtra to file charge sheets within 15 days of receiving prosecution sanction.
According to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the state must give the go-ahead before prosecuting a public servant. The court cannot take cognisance of offences punishable under sections 7, 10, 11, 13 and 15 without prior sanction. This includes cases where traps are laid to catch officials accepting bribes or those of disproportionate assets.
The ACB has been blaming the concerned departments for not giving the sanctions on time. However, sources revealed that there had been considerable time taken by the ACB as well after a nod is given. “The superintendents of police of the range have been asked to file charge sheets within fortnight so that the trial is speeded up and the cases can be disposed of,” said a high-ranking officer privy to the development.
A delay in conducting trials is one of the key reasons for the low conviction rates. Sources said as the disposal time is stretched, the complainant’s interest in the case deteriorates. Moreover, witnesses either make errors during the deposition or become untraceable and vital time is lost, leading to acquittals.
Others reasons for fewer convictions include transfer or retirement of the officers who investigate the case. Moreover, senior government servants booked in the case may manage to win over the witnesses — through sympathy, pressure or bribery.
The ACB has its ranges at Mumbai, Nashik, Pune, Nagpur, Thane, Aurangabad, Nanded and Amravati. “After the prosecution sanction is granted, there is no need for the concerned range to sit over the cases and hence charge sheets should be filed immediately,” said the officer.