ANDHRA PRADESH

ACB to arrest accused officials

HYDERABAD April 9. The Anti-Corruption Bureau has taken a policy decision to arrest and remand all accused officers involved in cases of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 from May 1, 2003, onwards, according to its Director-General A.K. Mohanty.

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Mr. Mohanty said the corruption cases were cognisable and non-bailable and as such the accused persons would be sent to the designated special courts after arresting them.

``These provisions were already there under the Act but due to various reasons including logistics problems we were unable to arrest the corrupt officials. Arrests would help in bringing in added deterrence in the drive against corruption,'' he said.

The State Police chief, P. Ramulu, has consented to provide facilities like lock-ups in different parts of the State. The plan for reorganisation of the ACB was under the consideration of the Government and once it is through there would be one ACB police station for each district.

The ACB DG admitted that at an average his bureau was short by 20 officers at any given time and there was a reluctance among the officers to join. "We have asked the Government to provide special incentives like out of turn promotions and it is under consideration,'' he said.

Mr. Mohanty said there was no plan to make public the list of officers being investigated by the ACB as it would be "unethical'' to do so without the cases reaching the conviction stage. "But, we will take action against anybody provided we have the information and evidence. We are investigating thousands of officers,'' he said.

44 gazetted officers booked: In the first quarter of the current year, the ACB had booked cases against 95 persons among whom 44 were gazetted officers, 44 non-gazetted officers, seven corporate employees and private persons.

About 68 officers were placed under suspension by the departments concerned for corruption, 15 officers were punished as a sequel to departmental proceedings, four cases ended in conviction and 15 officers were dismissed from service. Properties were attached in 29 cases.

There were 56 cases of trap and 23 cases of disproportionate assets as against 39 trap and seven disproportionate during the same period last year. The assets unearthed amounted to Rs. 1,376 lakhs compared to Rs. 346 lakhs last year.

The ACB DG felt his bureau's functioning in recent times was nothing less than "spectacular'' as it had booked cases as never before. "The performance is the best in the country considering the resources available at our disposal,'' said Mr. Mohanty. However, he did accept that corruption was so rampant in Government circles that people expected more from the ACB.