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Assam tops NE States in corruption cases

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, April 21 � With anti-corruption crusade being the flavour of the season, yet another piece of evidence of the complacent attitude might increase the discomfort level of the Congress Government as Assam has emerged as the State with the highest number of corruption cases among the North Eastern States with marginal conviction rate and zero recovery of properties during a nine-year period.

The latest data on corruption is part of the report of the National Crimes Record Bureau. The report has been visualised by the PRS Legislative Research (PRS), which provides resources to MPs, as a report on �Corruption Cases in India�. The PRS was founded in 2005 as an independent research initiative. The PRS works with Members of Parliament across party lines to provide research support on legislative and policy issues.

The report has been published at a time when Anna Hazare�s movement against corruption and controversy over drafting of the Jan Lok Pal Bill is raging in the country. The report significantly pertains to a period when the Tarun Gogoi Government had just taken over in 2001 and covers (2000-2009) period.

When Gogoi took over, he had 31 pending corruption investigations and 17 cases were added during the year taking the total to 48 cases. Though all the cases were investigated, a charge sheet was filed on only one case, while one case turned out to be false.

The highest number of 26 corruption cases was registered in 2003, while in 2008 the State Government failed to find even one case of corruption in the State. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, the State achieved 100 per cent conviction, while in 2009 only 33 per cent could be convicted.

In all of nine years (2000-2009), only 95 cases of corruption were registered in

Assam, with a conviction rate of 54 percent and zero recovery.

By 2009, the number of pending cases has gone up to 74 and three more were added, taking the total number of pending corruption cases to 77. Only three cases could be charge sheeted and 71 cases were kept pending. There were no conviction and recovery.

In comparison, the neighbouring North Eastern States have lesser number of registered corruption cases. Manipur follows Assam with 25 registered cases during the nine year period, with zero conviction and zero recovery of properties.

Nagaland has 23 registered corruption cases with an impressive recovery of Rs 5.95 crore seizures of properties, the highest in any North Eastern State.

Meghalaya has registered only seven corruption cases with zero conviction. Tripura has registered 18 corruption cases with two conviction and Rs 13,000 recovery.

Addressing the function organised to mark the Civil Service Day, Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh said the Government�s aim is to strengthen the legislative framework, revamp administrative practices and procedures and fast track a systemic response to fighting corruption.

�We are committed to bringing more transparency in public procurement and ensuring that disinvestment of public utilities and allocation of public resources are done in a manner that best safeguards the interests of the asset-owning public. I urge all civil servants to contribute to our efforts in fighting corruption. I expect you to be honest and fearless in advising your superior authorities, especially the political leadership. Those of you who serve in senior positions would do well to also encourage your subordinate officers in this direction,� he pleaded.

A Group of Ministers is looking into the legal and administrative measures that can be taken in this regard. The group has a wide ranging mandate and recommendations to be available very soon. �A committee of ministers and representatives of civil society is at work to finalise the draft of a Lokpal Bill, which we hope to be able to introduce during the monsoon session of Parliament.�

�Two bills relating to judicial accountability and protection of whistle blowers have already been introduced in Parliament. We will soon ratify the United Nations Convention on Corruption,� he said.

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