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Shailesh Gandhi

19 May 2005

The Mahrashtra government's Anti Corruption Bureau does not seem to doing everything within its power to check corruption in the state. Evidence for this comes from the bureau tself, in response to requests I made under the state's right to information law.

14 Dec 2001: Maharashtra's Anti Corruption Bureau (Thane) nabs Executive Engineer Ishwarsingh Rajput of the state government's Irrigation Department accepting a bribe. He is put into custody.

8 Dec 2001: Rajput is released.

15 June 2002: Rajput is reinstated after six months suspension as no request received for prosecution.

29 Oct 2002: ACB sends request for Rajput's prosecution.

19 Aug 2003: A desk officer of the state government's Home department refuses permission to prosecute. ACB drops the case.

The above timeline immediately brings to mind one all-important question: Why did the ACB take 10 months to launch prosecution of a public official caught redhanded? This delay seems the most probable cause for no punitive action being taken against the official. The ACB is Maharashtra's anti-corruption law enforcement body, instituted and headed by a Director General of Police (DGP).

A press report on how Ishwarsingh Rajput had been reinstated spurred me to find out more. I used the Maharashtra Right to Information laws, and put together the above timeline using the information I received. In my MRTI application filed on 17 Feb 2005, I asked Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Prahlad Kharpude, the Public Information Officer of the ACB, the following questions:

1. What were the reasons for not initiating prosecution of Ishwarsingh Rajput?
2. Who was the officer responsible for not initiating prosecution and what action has been taken against the ACB officer for dereliction of duty?
3. Has prosecution been launched now?

The PIO replied on 2 Mar 2005: "The ACB had made all efforts to initiate prosecution against Rajput, but was helpless as the administration refused to prosecute him."

Additional DG Ajit Parasnis confirmed a few days later that no ACB officer had committed any dereliction of duty, and hence the question of action against any officer did not arise at all.

Not satisfied, I then asked for a copy of the administration's refusal to ACB to begin prosecution, and received this letter on 30 March 2005. The refusal was signed by a desk officer of the Home Department, Mr.Ingle. In refusing permission, the officer noted that the ACB had asked for permission on 29/10/2002, over ten months after Mr. Rajput was trapped redhanded and put in custody. The letter also says that Mr. Rajput had already been reinstated in service by 15 June, 2002, before the ACB's permission request. The desk officer seemed to imply in the letter that the department thought the case was false (despite the redhanded seizure), or atleast very badly made.

It appears the ACB sought permission to prosecute really late in the day, thereby ensuring that the permission would not be granted. Nobody seems to be taking responsibility, and the ACB and the Home Department seem to be in a collaborative mode. Scanned copies of the documents received through the Right to Information law are available with me.

I obtained more information about the ACB works and its performance over the last three years. Rs 27,87,10,549 (approximately 279 million rupees) has spent on the ACB in the three years. Out of 1414 cases, 377 convictions have been obtained. Rs 7,130,789 has been seized in traps. These numbers indicate that the government spends Rs 7.4 lakh per conviction, and Rs 39 for every rupee seized. The numbers raise serious questions about the efficacy of the ACB.

Shailesh Gandhi
19 May 2005

Shailesh Gandhi is the Chairman and Managing Director of Clear Plastics Limited, Mumbai. He is also the chairman of the IIT Mumbai Alumni Association.

Citizen Direct is India Together's channel for publishing reports from citizens who have detailed information about specific civil society concerns and matters, by virtue of their participation, association, or independent observation. These reports are therefore as witnessed and understood by the authors themselves; India Together accepts no liability or responsibility for them.   More

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  • Posted by Srinivas Savaram on May 26, 2005 12:13 PM

    Great follow through. Mr. Shailesh Gandhi is setting a good example for the rest of us to follow. We will at least know where bottlenecks exist and what improvements are needed.

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