The state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is having a tough time convincing government authorities about corrupt officials in state departments and in seeking permission for their prosecution.
According to ACB's latest report, 31 cases were rejected by various government departments for sanction, which have been sent again for review. Almost 257 cases are pending for prosecution sanction with the government, 90 of which have been pending for more than 90 days.
As per the Supreme Court ruling of May 2013 in the State of Maharashtra through CBI (appellant) vs Mahesh G Jain (respondent), grant of sanction is only an administrative function and the sanctioning authority is required to prima facie reach the satisfaction that relevant facts would constitute the offence. However, there seems to be a violation of this rule as, according to ACB, the departments have denied prosecution sanction citing flimsy and unconvincing reasons. Of the 31 cases sent for review, the revenue department tops with 12 cases, followed by home department with six.
Additional commissioner of ACB Vishwas Nangre Patil said, "Even after sending several reminders, we do not get their response. Also, government agencies reject the cases and do not grant permission for prosecution despite being provided with the necessary evidence. We have challenged the cases which have come back rejected. Without their approval, the accused cannot be charge-sheeted. As a result, trials and convictions get delayed."
While in many cases, government authorities have questioned the evidence submitted, in others, they have questioned the complainants' motive or have pinpointed the way the trap was laid. Officials also tend to shield their officers and make the case weak by delaying the process.
"The cases lie with them for several months, files gathering dust. The officers do not seek the opinion of legal advisers or competent authority to understand the case. They simply deny sanction, giving unconvincing reasons," said director general of ACB Pravin Dixit.
ACB has boldly put up these rejected cases on the website along with reasons given by the departments.
In a case where an education officer from Pune, Sangeeta Godekar, was caught accepting a bribe of Rs5,000, the department has denied sanction saying the offence was committed just six months after she joined. She was caught in 2012, but the department has still not approved her prosecution sanction.
In another case, where two forest officials from Jalgaon — Rajendra Rane and Ashok Taide — were caught seeking a bribe of Rs10,000 from a complainant in 2010, the department, despite having enough proof, denied the sanction stating the complainant himself was a good smuggler and was trying to trap the officers through false complaint. One more case, details of which are put up online, is about Pravin Devre, a municipal commissioner. The department denied the case stating the accused did not take the bribe in his office but in the complainant's house and that he was caught after he stepped out of the house.
"We have cases where they have challenged our evidence and details. All these have been sent back for review. We have put these cases out in the open with details, proof produced, reasoning by the government authorities and ACB's conclusions, so that the cases are treated with more seriousness and sanctions are approved faster," said Dixit.