Corruption cases trial hit by shortage of special prosecutors

The trial of hundreds of corruption cases involving politicians and government officials has been hit for over a year for want of special prosecutors.

Currently, there are only two prosecutors to take care of the cases in the six special Vigilance courts, forcing the courts to postpone the trial indefinitely. One special prosecutor is on long leave on personal grounds. The one appointed to Kottayam has to keep shuttling between Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam and Muvattupuzha courts.

The special courts are functioning at Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Muvattupuzha, Thrissur, Kozhikode, and Thalassery exclusively for the trial of Vigilance cases chargesheeted by the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau. Two Vigilance tribunals are also functioning in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

The delay in appointing special prosecutors has led to the long pendency of the cases. Usually, the trial of a Vigilance case may take months to complete given the voluminous nature of documents involved, high number of witnesses and experts to be examined, and the complexity of cases. The absence of special prosecutors has aggravated the situation and added to the pendency of cases, sources indicated.

There are 1,424 cases ready for trial after the completion of investigation and 930 others at the FIR stage. There are 33 pending cases in the two tribunals together. The pending cases in these courts include several corruption cases involving public persons as well as government officials.

A recent interview held to select special prosecutors was cancelled after the State government expressed its reservations about the absence of one of the interviewers on the panel. The panel had the secretaries of the Home and Law departments, Director of Vigilance, and the Additional Director of Prosecution (Vigilance) as its members. However, the Additional Director could not attend the proceedings due to health reasons, forcing the government to cancel the proceedings, the sources said.

The panel will be reconstituted and interview will be held shortly, indicated sources in the legal department.

The courts can try criminal misconduct by a public servant, including the acceptance or attempt to accept illegal gratification, dishonest or fraudulent misappropriation, and taking gratification by corrupt or illegal means.

Public servants include government employees, those employed by a local authority or corporation, judges, arbitrators, office-bearers of registered cooperative societies, chairpersons or employees of any service commission or board, among others.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 11:23:34 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/corruption-cases-trial-hit-by-shortage-of-prosecutors/article65567847.ece