In an attempt to discourage government officials from indulging in graft, the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) has started registering cases against family members of corrupt officials who have monetarily benefited from their ill-gotten wealth.
While this practice has been adopted in disproportionate assets (DP) cases in the past, ACB officers said they have now started using this approach in successful trap cases.
After trapping an official, ACB officials start going through the financial and property details of the accused.
If the amount exceeds the earned income, a new case with regard to disproportionate assets is registered. Subsequently, if any family member is found to be a beneficiary, then they too are booked in the new DP case.
Officers said that registering DP cases after successful traps was not a common practice in the past. But now, they intend to aggressively continue with this approach in the hope that it will curb corruption. They added that more than 20 such cases have been registered by the ACB since April 2013.
In one such case, Rajendra Nerkar, assistant regional transport official at the Andheri RTO, and his aide were arrested in April while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs1,500 from a travel bus operator.
ACB officials said that subsequent searches at Nerkar’s residence had led to the recovery of Rs84 lakh.
Further investigations revealed that Nerkar and his wife collectively owned assets worth Rs1.16 crore. Of this, Rs99.92 lakh was disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Officers said that Nerkar’s wife had also been booked in the case for allegedly abetting his deeds.
Similarly, in April last year, the ACB booked section engineer Jagdish Wagh while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs22,000 on behalf of Satish Chiklikar, the executive public engineer from the public works department in Nashik.
During subsequent investigations, ACB recovered around Rs.7.5 crore in cash, gold and silver ornaments worth around Rs2 crore from the residence and bank lockers of Chiklikar, besides properties in the name of his family members.
Chiklikar had also registered his two sports utility vehicles in the name of a person from Dhule. ACB later booked Chiklikar’s wife Swati in the case.