Pandemic curve plummets, corruption graph shoots up in Delhi

Complaints filed till September-end surpass total plaints filed throughout 2020

Updated - November 15, 2021 03:28 am IST

Published - November 15, 2021 01:29 am IST - New Delhi

After witnessing a brief slowdown following the advent of the pandemic last year, alleged corruption in the city’s Government departments appears to be back with a vengeance.

The number of complaints alleging graft against officials posted in various Government departments received by the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) till the end of September surpassed the total number of complaints filed with the ACB throughout 2020 by over 12%, it stated in response to a Right to Information query from The Hindu .

From 180 in 2018, the total number of complaints alleging corruption received by the ACB fell to 85 in 2019 and 56 in 2020. However, till the end of September 2021, as many as 63 complaints have been recorded, registering an increase of 12.5%.

On the other hand, the number of cases registered on the basis of these complaints as well as the number of Government officials arrested for alleged graft was found trailing by mere single digits compared to 2020. But, no Government official was convicted either in 2020 or till September this year.

The ACB had registered 12 cases of alleged graft and arrested 11 Government officials in 2020. Till the end of September 2021, a total of 11 cases have been registered and 10 Government employees have been arrested.

From 2015 to September 30 this year, prominent departments such as revenue saw 15, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) 11, education 10, health 9 and the municipal corporations of Delhi 8 cases registered against their employees by the anti-graft body.

Few convictions

The most number of arrests, 21, were of DJB officials followed by 18 of Revenue Department, 11 civic body, and 10 Education Department officials. However, as many as 11 civic body employees were convicted during the period compared to only two officials, each, from the Revenue and Health Departments and one each from departments, including Excise, PWD and Education. Not even a single DJB official was convicted during the period.

Of the total number of 1,212 complaints alleging graft received by it from 2015 till September this year, 100 or 8.25% were converted into cases. Court challans — a pre-requisite for a trial – were filed in 106 or 8.75% cases. Arrests were made in 90 or 7.43% of the cases and convictions secured in 23 or 1.9%.

The ACB, created in 1975, was envisioned as a police station with jurisdiction ‘all over the National Capital Territory of Delhi’ and mandated with the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act (1988).

In addition to the power to conduct inquiries against public servants of the Delhi Government and departments under the L-G, the ACB, till mid-2015, had the power to probe graft complaints against officials posted in departments such as the Delhi Police and the DDA, if the instances of alleged graft unfolded within the borders of the Capital.

Powers curtailed

Between 2014 and 2015, back-to-back directives were issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) effectively curtailing its ambit and power to investigate graft complaints against officials employed by the Central Government.

Sources said the seemingly ‘low’ complaint-to-case conversion ratio was due to this ‘change in the remit’ of the anti-graft body.

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