HYDERABAD: Big fish or small fish, the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s requests for prosecution of bribe-taking officials have run the same course for years: let off with a recommendation to ‘drop action’; or slapped on the wrist with the decree of ‘department action’; or referred to a ‘commission of inquiry’ (COI).
Successive governments from the regime of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy through K Rosaiah to Kiran Kumar Reddy have followed the same three-pronged course of action that virtually ensured that nothing came out of hundreds of corruption probes, reducing the ACB to a toothless existence.
According to ACB data available with Express, there are at least 34 officials of various ranks in the Agriculture and Cooperation Department who have been accused of colluding with suppliers.
While all of them were accused of the same offence, the government’s decision on each of them was different.
Action was dropped against many; some faced departmental action; and a few ended up with the COI.
The government did not state any reason why different individuals are treated differently for the same offence.
For instance, L Venkatram Reddy, project director in the same department, was found by ACB to be possessing disproportionate assets worth `55 lakh.
He got away with departmental action, which is still pending.
In sharp contrast, a joint director in the same wing, C Vidyasagar, accused of possessing disproportionate assets, was allowed to go free as the government decided to ‘drop action’ against him.
In the Consumer Affairs, Food and Civil Supplies Department, there is this case of an assistant controller of legal metrology, Thota Surya Prakash, found in possession of disproportionate assets worth over `46 lakh.
The ACB sought his prosecution while the government ordered departmental action.
In contrast, it handed out a ‘drop action’ decree against S Raja Reddy, a district supply officer in Karimnagar district, who possessed disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 40 lakh.
One comes across similar instances in the Home Department as well.
Three bribetaking police constables faced departmental action, but SDPO M Raghav Reddy, had ‘action dropped’ against him for a similar offence.
Sources in the ACB say differential rulings on ACB referrals was par for the course.
“Those who have contacts and have the ability to bribe their superiors get away with ‘action dropped’ while others face departmental action,’’ one source said