October 02, 2020

Patna Durbar: Nitish battles corruption

The Nitish government confiscated the property of a corrupt official and turned it into a school for girls
The Nitish government confiscated the property of a corrupt official and turned it into a school for girls

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may have succeeded in containing crime to a great extent in Bihar, but he is yet to tame the scourge of corruption in the state in the past eight years.

Complaints of rampant graft pouring in from different parts of the state continue to bother him. He receives the maximum number of complaints regarding corruption whenever he holds his ‘Janta Durbar’ to meet the common man.

This should come as surprise, given the fact that the Nitish government has been waging an all-out war against corruption since it came to power in 2005.

It has caught scores of public servants red-handed while accepting bribes, and introduced a new legislation to enable the competent authorities to confiscate the movable and immovable assets of the government employees facing trials in the corruption cases.

In fact, the government has already seized the assets of many senior officials facing corruption cases. Some of their buildings have also been converted into schools for poor children.

Since 2006, altogether 880 FIRs have been lodged against corrupt officers, including serving IAS and IPS officers.

All these steps should ideally have come as a big deterrent for unscrupulous public servants at all levels, but that did not happen. In fact, the Economic Offence Unit (EOU) and the vigilance wings of the Bihar Police are still working overtime to raid the premises of many government employees who have minted money by abusing their official positions.

Even on Friday last, the EOU unearthed assets worth Rs 2.38 crore belonging to a junior engineer working with the water resources department. This has posed a big question mark over the efficacy of Nitish’s anti-graft drive.

Nitish has admitted that corruption still prevails at the lower level of bureaucracy. He has now announced sterner measures by his government to check it.

He wants dismissal of all those officials who are found guilty in corruption charges within two months after the departmental proceedings against them are concluded.

He has asked the chief secretary to hold weekly meetings with the heads of each department to monitor the progress of the departmental proceedings against tainted officers now.

The chief minister has also decided to empower the district magistrates and police superintendents to take penal action against the corrupt block-level officers to expedite the process for their dismissal.

A vigilance officer will be posted in each of the departments from now on. Besides, Nitish wants the vigilance investigation bureau to evolve on the lines of the CBI, and has ordered the setting up of helplines within 15 days in all departments and district headquarters for registering cases.

Nitish’s latest directives are part of his government’s oft-stated policy of zero-tolerance towards corruption. He appears to be hopeful that his steps will finally instill a sense of fear in the minds of corrupt officials and deter them from seeking bribes from the common man. But he needs the support of the top brass in the state administration and the police.

Until now, the agencies – vigilance and EOU – engaged in trapping corrupt officials have been rather slow in taking corruption cases to logical conclusion. In fact, very few of the accused have faced dismissals from service so far. Many of them have actually got their suspensions revoked and are now working “as usual” after being released on bail.

The scenario, however, may well change now. Nitish’s new measures are likely to yield fruitful results in his war against corruption.

But he can hope to effectively check the corruption menace only if his government ensures the timely dismissal of all those corrupt public servants who are found guilty of amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income.

Without proper punishment meted out to them, his war against corruption will have no meaning.

Courtesy: Daily Mail

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