Pradeep Pattanayak

The Odisha Vigilance department's rising crackdowns against corruption within the government machinery in the last several months is indeed an envious feat but has it really helped weed out the dishonesty from the system. Well the trend of results does not says so. 

If the information shared by the Vigilance department is anything to go by, more than half of the total numbers of accused arrested in vigilance cases are walking out free. In 2019, 2020 and 2021, punishment was handed out to only 48, 46 and 43 accused respectively. 

Consider the case of former Additional SP (Communication) Trinath Mishra who was arrested by the Vigilance on charges of amassing assets beyond his known sources of income on February 16, 2022. 

Prior to Mishra, Deputy Manager of Odisha State Police Housing and Welfare Corporation Limited Pratap Samal was on November 9, 2021 arrested for amassing assets worth Rs 14.88 crore. 

In 2017, the Managing Director of Orissa Small Industries Corporation Ltd (OSIC) Partha Sarathi Mishra and SCB Medical College and Hospital’s professor Dr Rabindra Jena were some of the big babus arrested for corruption. 

Well it was a general notion during arrest of these officers that exemplary punishment would deter others from following the wrong path in earning money. But, proving the speculations wrong, the Vigilance department has failed to submit chargesheets in 60 days’ time due to want of proofs in most of the cases. The development has paved the way for the aforementioned officers to avail bail. 

“In case of DA cases, if charge sheets are submitted in a hurry, it will only beneficial to the arrested corrupt officers,” explained former Odisha DGP Gopal Nanda. 

Similarly, former police officer Sarat Sahu said the calculation of disproportionate assets involve several procedures, making it impossible for filing chargesheet within 60 days. 

Acting against these tainted officers, the State government has been showing zero tolerance in handing out compulsory retirement to them. This substantiates their corruption. 

Surprisingly enough, despite their involvement in corruption, the investigating agency fails to file chargesheets against them. It gives rise to questions like whether there is any procedural lacuna or the delay is done deliberately. 

“The default bail provided to the accused corrupt officers indicates one thing: The investigating agency is showing favour to them,” said senior advocate Sourachandra Mahapatra.