No lockdown for corrupt public servants

While the authorities are tirelessly working to bring down the rising number of Covid-19 positive cases, it seems the authorities could not contain the contagious "corruption'" from the system.

While the citizens are continuing to reel under the outbreak of the pandemic, there has been no lockdown for corrupt public servants as the cases of corruption continued to scale up.

According to the data put up on the official website of Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), Maharashtra, over 200 cases of corruption have been lodged from March till date. The numbers, though slightly lower than 342 cases of last year (March till July), are still alarming and indicates that corruption cannot be easily contained.

In these 211 odd cases, at least 273 allegedly corrupt public servants from across Maharashtra have been booked. The numbers are again lower than 449 public servants, who were arrested for various corruption cases, between March 2019 and July 2019.

The official data further shows that from January 2020 till date, around 341 cases of corruption have been recorded while 500 cases of similar nature were lodged last year.

From January till July this year, the ACB has arrested 474 corrupt public servants while 666 were arrested for the same period last year.

As usual, the state police force continued to top the list, even during the lockdown with 81cases lodged against them. The cops were followed by the revenue department with 80 cases.

Around 117 cops across the state have been booked for corruption and malpractices while 111 officials from the revenue department were also named in the corruption cases.

The data further reveals that Pune topped the list of corrupt officials with nearly 86 cases lodged from January, followed by Nagpur that has recorded 50 cases.

Mumbai has around 10 cases.

Commenting on the numbers, RTI activist Kamlakar Shenoy pointed out that there can be no deterrent for corruption especially because of the modifications made in various statutes by the Union government of the day. "The Union government has amended the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, which deals with the corruption cases against public servants. The fresh modifications have only damaged and destroyed the basic foundations and objectives of the law," he said.

"The modifications in the PC law, act as an obstruction for a fair and independent probe in an alleged corruption case by the police as it does not allow one to directly register an FIR on a received complaint," Shenoy added.

When contacted, a senior officer from ACB Maharashtra, told Free Press Journal that the force is doing an excellent job.

"We have taken all possible efforts to create awareness about the PC Act and also the provisions of ACB. The citizenry is always encouraged to come forward and lodge complaints regarding any unlawful gratification sought by public servants to do their very own job," the officer said on condition of anonymity.

"Though the numbers during the lockdown have been low but still we think that these are alarming. We received numerous complaints even during the Covid 19 lockdown and thus we continued to act as per the complaints," the officer added.

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