KOCHI: Justice delayed is justice denied. It seems cases are piling up at the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) each year. The data from VACB reveals that the agency, which was formed to prevent corruption in state government and affiliated offices, is struggling to meet the deadline when it comes to preliminary inquiries, quick verification and case investigation.
As per the data, as many as 628 cases in which probe is yet to be completed remains with VACB as on March 31 this year. In 2018-2019, as many as 84 cases were registered. Investigation was completed in 268 cases, including cases pending from previous years, during the same period.
Similarly, 111 Vigilance inquiries referred by the state government were pending till March 31. As many as 107 inquiries were referred by the state government during the 2018-19 fiscal. As many as 94 inquiries were completed in the 2018-19 period, including pending inquiries from previous years. In the same period, VACB took up 58 fact-finding inquiries. As many as 32 fact-finding inquiries were completed during the period, including previous years’ pending probes. As on March 31, as many as 40 fact-finding enquiries were pending before the agency.
A VACB officer cited multiple reasons behind the delay in completing the probe. “A major reason is VACB has a limited number of officers to complete the probe. Each inspector has to probe at least 5-10 cases at a time. In Vigilance cases, a lot of documents from banks and offices are to retrieved which require a long time. Officers in VACB come from the Police Department, who after a short stint, return to their parent department. A permanent cadre is required to make VACB more effective,” an officer said.
Similarly, delay from other state departments in giving sanction to prosecute the accused persons also troubles VACB. The amendment in the Prevention of Corruption Act in 2018 has caused further delay in completing the procedure. Section 17A of the PC Act makes government approval mandatory for carrying out a probe in an offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant.
“Delay mostly takes place in disproportionate wealth amassment cases. The amendment in PC Act for a certain extent has affected the procedures. However, sensational cases are given prominence and attempts are made to complete the probe in such cases in limited duration,” the officer said.
Pendency as on March 31, 2019
Pending cases- 628
Pending fact-finding probes-40
Cases taken up in 2018-2019
Vigilance cases registered- 84
Vigilance fact-finding probes-58
Completed probe in 2018-19
Vigilance fact-finding probe-32