Corrupt government officers will now face punitive action faster — because a clerk in the Irrigation Department wouldn’t take no for an answer.
On Tuesday, the high court stayed a government circular that handicapped the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
The circular prohibited the ACB from proceeding with complaints of corruption unless the relevant department probed the allegation and made a case against the suspected government employee.
A division bench comprising Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi, however, ruled that the ACB is duty bound to investigate a complaint once a cognizable offence is disclosed.
The court was dealing with a petition filed by Anna More, a senior clerk in the Irrigation Department, who had claimed to have uncovered a Rs 1.37 crore scam in his department. According to More, the swindled money was funneled out as vehicle repairs, tenders granted to unregistered contractors, work allotted without tenders and purchase of fuel.
For example, one Contessa car was shown repaired twice in October 2006, at an expense of Rs 38,15,967 — two months later, the same car was sold by public auction for Rs 36,500, More’s petition said.
Armed with 287 documents supporting his complaint against eight of his senior officers, More had approached the Thane ACB in April 2008.
Going by the circular, More’s complaints were referred to his department’s senior officers, who discarded his allegations.
The frustrated senior clerk then approached the high court, where he argued his own case.
On Tuesday, the court admitted More’s petition for final hearing and stayed the enforcement of the circular till further orders.