Though Supreme Court is yet to give its nod to State's anti-graft law

With a palpable anti-graft sentiment permeating the country's social and political climate, the drive against corruption has picked up steam in Bihar.

On Sunday, the State government gave a practical demonstration of its anti-corruption law, which entails confiscation and attachment of property belonging to officials accused of corruption under the Bihar Special Courts Act, 2009.

The Patna district administration sealed the property of suspended IAS officer Shiv Shankar Verma, taking possession of his grand residence in Danapur.

Mr. Verma, a Secretary in the Minor Irrigation Department, was suspended after Special Vigilance Unit officials raided his house in 2007 and discovered more than Rs. 1.4 crore in movable and immovable properties.

The law empowers the State government to attach property even during the course of the investigation against an accused. The property can be returned only if the accused is acquitted of all charges.

But the Supreme Court has yet to give its assent to the law, after a Bench stated this May that the accused person's property could be confiscated “only after the offence was proved beyond reasonable doubt.”

Following the confiscation, the Chief Minister, however, spelled out the State government's stated intention of transforming the seized property into a school.

Requests of converting seized properties into night shelters for common people, as put forth by the Social Welfare Department, would also be considered, Mr. Kumar said.

The drive spilled over to Monday, with the district administration seizing Mr. Verma's 13 decimal-plot in Alipur village in Patna.

Sixteen more cases regarding confiscation of property are before vigilance courts, with proceedings under way in at least 10 cases, including against a former Director-General of Police.