Have you come across any new modus operandi of government officials for accepting bribe?
Government officials, nowadays, are fully aware of the functioning of ACB and anti-corruption laws. They are aware about the traps laid by ACB sleuths and, hence, they need to come up with new techniques to dodge us for accepting bribe. On the other hand, we have to constantly read their modus operandi and ensure that our traps are successful.
Our effort is to always be one step ahead of them.
Over the years, there has been slight increase in the number of corruption cases. Mostly, the revenue department, police and municipal corporations have been involved in alleged bribery cases. Why do you think that is? What measures have you suggested to the government to reverse this trend?
These departments directly interact with citizens every day, thereby increasing chances of corruption. From the statistics, it is clear that corruption is increasing in these departments. Use of technology instead of paperwork and minimising workload are the best and immediate solutions to curb corruption. Senior officials in government departments should take proactive roles to ensure their subordinates are not indulging in malpractices. There should be a vigilance officer in every department and they should report to us. We are trying to be proactive to control corruption.
Why only in the rarest of rare cases the accused is convicted? What measures have you taken to bring up the conviction rate in cases dealt by the ACB?
Conviction rate is not as high as it should have been. Cases dealt by the ACB come up for hearing in the court after a long time. We met the chief justice of the high court in this regard and the chief justice was very responsive. Delay in investigating these cases is another major issue.
Sometimes, the complainant himself backs out from the case after losing interest. Because of the delay, the offender gets time to manipulate his/her case. Number of technicians and experts is less in the forensic department. And that is another reason for cases getting delayed. But, sometimes, important cases are given priority and reports are filed soon.
We are focussing on the quality of the complaint.
Sometimes, the complaint may not be true or the evidence is not sufficient. We identify such cases and only deal with credible cases. That also has a bearing on the conviction and number of cases. We have now started using voice recordings of the conversation between complainant and the offender. Such voice recordings have validity in the court of law. So, in recent times the conviction rate has gone up.
What happened to the Nehru Nagar bribery case investigation in which 35 policemen were suspended for taking bribe?
There has been good progress in that case. We are waiting for the FSL report as it has many accused. The case has progressed sufficiently... It is being supervised by additional director general of police.
What happened into the inquiry against ACP Jayendra Thakur in Nehru Nagar case which was started after Kasim Khan alleged that when he approached him against 35 policemen for allegedly taking bribe Thakur refused to lodge a compliant?
Jayendra Thakur has retired now and no report has been sent to me yet. I had asked additional commissioner of police to examine the matter and he said that Thakur’s statement was not recorded and the additional commissioner’s report has not come to me. But it is too small a matter to lose sight of bigger issues of corruption.
According to ACB statistics, 31 cases are pending, including 29 of the current year, for getting sanction of the department concerned. Why the delay in getting the sanction?
The figure has come down considerably because I have been regularly interacting with the home department and chief secretary. Meetings held by the chief secretary every month with the secretaries of all state departments are helping to expedite the matter.
Do you think ACB was lax in handling Nitesh Thakur’s case and hence he is at large now? Shouldn’t his passport have been impounded, considering that he tried to flee the country?
It is very rare for an alleged culprit to try to run away. We have informed the local police to keep looking for him. We had not impounded his passport, that’s why we have declared him an absconder. He’s got a lot of money, so he can go anywhere, but he can’t escape permanently. If we get information about him hiding abroad, we can bring him from there also. Public can alert us if they have any information.
There seems to have been a lack of coordination between ACB and Enforcement Directorate (ED), because the ED has circulated a lookout notice against Nitesh Thakur and, after he was intercepted at the airport, the ED informed ACB to keep a tab on him. So then, how did he flee?
We coordinate with the ED as much as needed. As far as keeping track of Thakur is concerned, I have asked the investigating officer and the Thane ACB unit in-charge superintendent of police Karnik to talk to the joint commissioner of police, law and order, and other senior officers to intimate about Thakur if they get any clue.
The ED should have also done it. I have to check whether the ED has taken the help of Mumbai Police and intimated them or not.