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Maharashtra: Who is stalling corruption probes into govt officials?

Updated on: 07 August,2023 06:57 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Faizan Khan | faizan.khan@mid-day.com

Data obtained via RTI shows alarming trend—ACB is unable to proceed in over 360 cases due to lack of permissions; CM’s urban development department leads with 90 pending cases, while Vikhe-Patil’s revenue department has 45 stalled cases

Maharashtra: Who is stalling corruption probes into govt officials?

The state government’s nod to probe 356 (of the total 364) alleged cases of corruption has been pending for 120 days. Representation pic

In response to an RTI query filed by activist Jeetendra Ghadge, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Maharashtra has revealed that as of March 2023, the state government is yet to sanction the investigation of 364 cases of alleged graft under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Alarmingly, the nod to probe 356 of these cases has been pending for 120 days, ostensibly indicating an attempt to shield corrupt officials. 


The revelation has raised serious concerns about the government’s commitment to fighting corruption and has left citizens questioning the integrity of those in power.


The Act was amended in 2018 to include Section 17A, which sought to add an extra layer of protection for government employees by mandating two-stage approvals from the competent authority to act against a public servant. The secretary of the department concerned must first sanction the commencement of an inquiry of the employee against whom allegations were made and later give the go-ahead for the filing of a charge sheet against them.


Jeetendra Ghadge, activistJeetendra Ghadge, activist

According to the RTI data, the urban development department tops the list with a concerning 90 pending sanctions, followed by the revenue department with 45 and the rural development department with 41.

“The amendments made in 2018 were intended to bolster the fight against corruption. They now appear to have undermined the very essence of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Citizens are increasingly disillusioned and questioning the integrity of those in power, as the government’s actions seem to contradict its anti-corruption rhetoric,” a retired IPS officer said.

Ghadge, of the Young Whistleblowers Foundation, said, “Citizens, who have long believed in the anti-corruption crusade promised by political parties, now find themselves disillusioned and questioning the integrity of those in power; 356 sanctions pending for 120 days brings the very purpose of having an ACB under question. The implications of shielding corrupt officials from the investigation are profound, eroding public trust in the government’s commitment to fighting corruption.”

The requirement of obtaining sanctions before taking action has been cited as a hindrance to punishing the corrupt. Representation PicThe requirement of obtaining sanctions before taking action has been cited as a hindrance to punishing the corrupt. Representation pic

An ACB official has voiced concerns about the provisions in the Prevention of Corruption Act, which have been hindering their actions in connection with corruption involving government officials. The requirement of obtaining sanctions before taking action has been cited as the primary reason for the slowdown in their efforts. The official alleged that corrupt individuals involved in such cases often become aware of the sanction being sought against them. This, coupled with significant delays in obtaining the sanction, gives them an opportunity to tamper with crucial evidence, making it even more challenging to pursue effective investigations.

Pravin Dixit, former DGP, anti-corruption, Maharashtra, said, “The amendment has been done with a different idea. The cases mentioned in the RTI are of traps. In these, the sanction of the competent authority is required for prosecution under Section 18 of the Act. These are languishing due to the laziness of the officers concerned who need to be pulled up by the additional chief secretary of the home department every month.”

364
No. of cases awaiting state govt nod for investigation

2018
Year the Act was amended

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