Over the years corruption cases have gone up. What are the reasons for this?
One major reason is the rising trust of people in the Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB). There are several other reasons too. ACB officers visit the complainants and assure them of a proper investigation. We are also educating people on the measures being taken to ameliorate their grievances. As per the statistics, from January to February 23 this year, the ACB has registered 144 cases; last year in the same period, it was 97. The number of cases has increased 67% compared to last year.
The police, revenue and municipal corporations always top the list of the most corrupt departments. Why is that so?
Corruption cases are being reported from every department, and not merely some particular departments.
In the past one year, most the policemen trapped by the ACB have been found to be in possession of huge quantities of gold. Are they converting hard-cash into gold or demanding bribes in the form of gold?
Bribe can come in any form, cash, gold, silver or gifts. However, in most of the cases, we have seized cash.
Have you inquired into the alleged misappropriation of ACB funds by Raj Khillnani, your predecessor?
We are not authorised to inquire into misappropriation of ACB funds by people in the rank of director general of police. So the matter has been referred to the home department and they are inquiring into the matter.
What is being done to strengthen the ACB technologically?
After I took charge last year, more than a hundred officers were imparted technology and forensic-related training at Kalina forensic laboratory. We provide operation-related training (laying traps, etc) every month in our office. Earlier, there used to be only one helpline in each ACB office; now there are two mobile numbers apart from toll free numbers and landline numbers. We are also creating awareness about ACB among people through television channels. We have taken a number of measures to check information being leaked from our offices to ensure that the traps we lay are successful. This is another reason why there are more number of cases now.
It's often alleged that information about ACB raids is leaked prior to the raids resulting in suspects escaping?
Now the chances information being leaked are minimal as we take adequate precautions. Suppose if a person has demanded bribe and at the time of verification we realise he has been alerted, then we don't go ahead with the process. As per court directive, the presence of a third person is important for verification.
People who approach ACB with complaints find the procedure frustrating and time-consuming. Can't this be simplified?
We are only following the Supreme Court directive. As per that, following a complaint, we send a third party to verify facts. At the time of verification we record the conversation between the complainant and the suspect. Once it's confirmed that the suspect is actually demanding money, then we lay a trap.
Why is the conviction rate so low? Last year it was only 21%. What measures are being taken to correct that?
As per a high court order, once a case is charged, the chief secretary and the home ministry have to conduct the mandatory review in three months. This is to avoid delay in prosecution and avoid chances of acquittal. In 2012, the conviction rate was 24%, but last year it was 21%. We have now started voice-recording and video-recording while trapping a suspect. We present this also as evidence before the court as it has validity in the court of law.
Do you think the ACB was lax in handling the Nitesh Thakur case? He was apprehended from the international airport while planning to flee the country. So, when he got bail, why did the ACB not insist on impounding his passport? Now, he has jumped bail, and is believed to have fled the country.
As the matter is in court, I wouldn't want to comment on it.