The prevailing COVID-19 situation has impacted the corruption cases registered in the state and the way of functioning of the sleuths to nab offenders.
Until this year, the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has registered 506 trap cases in which a government servant or his accomplice is caught red-handed as compared to 706 cases the previous year during the same period, reporting a drop of 200 cases.
A total 694 accused have been arrested this year as compared to 959 accused the previous year during the same period, revealed the latest statistics of the state ACB.
This year, the ACB registered 68 cases in January, 72 cases in February and 58 cases in March. The impact of the lockdown was evidently seen since April when the agency reported a paltry seven cases and 30 cases in May. As the country slowly opened and government offices started functioning with increased capacity, the agency reported 64 cases in June, 56 cases in July, 48 cases in August, 58 cases in September and 45 cases this month so far.
Apart from the 506 trap cases, the agency registered 10 cases of disproportionate assets and 21 cases of criminal misconduct in the state. In a trend seen in the previous years, Mumbai city continued to report less trap cases in the state with 15 cases and Pune the highest with 115 cases. Other places are Thane (34), Nashik (81), Nagpur (64), Amravati (70), Aurangabad (66) and Nanded (61).
“The drop in cases has been reported as government offices are working on a need basis and not with full capacity,” said an ACB officer. When asked about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on cases, the officer said that certain government servants are still resorting to accepting money.
When a complainant approaches ACB with a specific case, they are informed of the procedure to trap the suspected corrupt official red-handed. This necessitates the participation of the complainant to carry out the trap and the arrest.
As per the procedure, ACB officers accompany the complainant while laying traps to catch the accused red-handed. However, with the prevailing situation wherein entry to multiple persons is restricted, the officers find it difficult to gain proper access. “The traps are still laid along with the other procedures such as gathering evidence,” said the officer.
While cases this year reported drop, Maharashtra continued to stand first when it came to corruption cases in the year 2019, revealed the latest statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
The state registered a total 891 cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act and related sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) followed by Rajasthan (424), Tamil Nadu (418), Karnataka (379), Odisha (353) among others.