KOCHI: It seems Kerala is way ahead of many other states on the corruption front. According to the data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently, Kerala has the third highest number of corruption cases in India. As many as 430 graft cases were registered in the state in 2016 while it was 377 in 2015.Maharashtra tops the list with 1016 graft cases, followed by Odisha (569 cases). Of the total 4,439 corruption cases registered in India in 2016, 9.7 per cent were from Kerala. This is third after Maharashtra (22.9 per cent) and Odisha (12.8 per cent).
Interestingly, as per the NCRB data, only a single person was awarded departmental punishment for corruption in Kerala in 2016. Similarly, pendency for completing the trial of corruption cases is also high in Kerala. In 2016-end, as many as 1,167 cases were pending to enter trial stage - 1,102 cases pending from the previous year and 65 cases sent up for trial in the same year. However, the trial could be completed only in 49 cases.
“However, the number of corruption cases is comparatively less in 2017,” said a top VACB officer on condition of anonymity. The e-FIR given on the VACB website stated only 135 cases were registered across Kerala till mid-December 2017. “In Kerala, the public takes legal steps when they suspect corruption by government officers. Last year, the VACB had received more than 1,500 complaints. Similarly, many complaints were filed before the Vigilance court as well. But now, the cases are registered only after confirming the authenticity of the complaint,” an officer said.
RTI and anti-corruption activist D B Binu said a Vigilance Act is the need of the hour in Kerala. Currently, the state agency is following the Vigilance manual, which gets changed as per the orders brought out by person heading the Vigilance Department.
“The CBI was formed as per the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. In Kerala, the way of functioning of the Vigilance Department changes as per the order of each Vigilance Director. While the former director had asked each Vigilance unit to register cases according to the merit of the complaint, the current director told cases should be registered only after his consent. So, there is no uniformity in the functioning of the Vigilance Department,” he said.
Binu alleged pendency is a major issue in Vigilance cases. “Here, the people facing corruption charges get convicted only after 10-20 years. Kerala Congress leader N Balakrishna Pillai’s case is a prime example of the delay in disposal of Vigilance cases,” he said.