Official seizures of graft money a fraction of loot

There is more evidence that the corrupt just get away with their booty.

delhi Updated: Oct 31, 2011 01:08 IST
Aloke Tikku
Aloke Tikku
Hindustan Times

There is more evidence that the corrupt just get away with their booty.

Fresh statistics compiled by the government reveals that anti-corruption agencies across the country seized assets worth just about Rs 35 crore in all of last year.

There is no comparable official estimate of the money that public officials receive as bribes. But surveys conducted by the non-government sector indicate the official seizures are only a fraction of the money looted by public officials.

In 2005, Transparency International (TI) estimated truckers annually pay US $ 5 billion (Rs 24,310 crore) in bribes. survey conducted by TI with the Centre for Media Studies the same year concluded that Indians – often the poor – had to cough up Rs 26,768 crore every year to access ten basic services delivered by the government such as health.

In its report on crime presented to home minister P Chidambaram last week, the National Crime Records Bureau reported that anti-graft agencies had been able to seize property worth Rs 35 crore from 20 states and union territories last year.

There were 15 states and UTs such as Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal from where not a single paisa was recovered or seized by the anti-corruption bureau.

And 2010 was not a particularly bad year for the graft fighters.

There was a spike in the seizures made in the previous year, 2009, when assets worth Rs 60 crore were seized. But that was more of an exception. In the past six years, they have recovered assets worth just about Rs 174 crore; an annual average of Rs 29 crore.

Still worse, there is a good chance that only a fraction of this miniscule recovery would have to be released once the public servants charged with corruption are acquitted by the court.

Only one in four persons charged with corruption is finally convicted. In 2010, there were 891 persons who were convicted against 2,491 who were cleared of bribery charges as investigators did not have a solid case against them.

With this state of affairs, it was not surprising why the 2009 compilation on prisons – the last one to be compiled by NCRB – reported that of the 3.76 lakh people in jail in end-2009, only 409 - undertrials as well as convicts – were behind bars for taking a bribe.

First Published: Oct 30, 2011 22:36 IST