The common man might like to believe that public servants might dread a complaint against them with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), but numbers point to a different story.
An RTI query has revealed that out of 247 discreet inquiries that the Anti-Corruption Bureau pursued between 2006 and 2009, only one FIR has been filed in three years.
Out of the 247 inquiries, a mere 22 have been converted into open inquiries with the rest disposed of. Spurred by his own experience with an ACB official, activist Vijay Chauhan filed the query to find out the status of inquiries that the ACB routinely launches. The ACB, on tip-offs, first launches a discreet inquiry to verify the credibility of the complaint.
A discreet inquiry involves looking into a complaint and investigating it without the subject’s knowledge.
Such an inquiry doesn’t involve perusing official documents. “Once we feel that the complaint does have a solid base and requires investigation, we convert it into an open inquiry,” said Niket Kaushik, additional commissioner of police, Anti-Corruption Bureau. The open inquiry then involves investigating it officially as well as interrogating the subject.
The query states that the ACB found only 22 out of the 247 complaints to be fit for an open inquiry. This fact, said Chauhan, is what points to a greater rot in the system.
“Generally, a lot of these ACB officers, during a discreet inquiry make acquaintances with the subject of the complaint and thus dilute the charges against the accused, letting him off the hook. As a result, very few of these inquiries get converted into open inquiries.”
Kaushik, however, defends the ACB’s track record.
“Generally, most discreet inquiries are found to be baseless and often lack substance. These are filed due to a lot of reasons, with personal enmity against the accused being the main one.”
Kaushik added that there could have been a delay in filing FIRs. “Open inquiries generally go on for at least two years or so. Hence, its possible that many of these inquiries are still on,” he said.