The Prevention Of Corruption Act 1988 mandates a prison term of no less than 3 -years and a maximum of 7-years. But 99 percent corrupt in Odisha sentenced below 3-yr jail term. The result is 95 percent got bail on the plea of appeal and live in comfort homes
Why Corruption High In Odisha?
Corruption seems ruling in Odisha. The rates of bribe money quoted by crooked babus of the State government indicate the rot in the service delivery mechanism of the State. There seems no fear among the corrupt State officials which is evidenced by the bribe money demand of as measly as Rs 2000.
The unearthing of the mushrooming under-the-table operations in the State by Odisha Vigilance gives a thumbs up to the comments made by former CVC N Vittal."Corruption is a low risk, high-profit business," observed Vittal.
No Fear Of Law?
There seems to be no fear of law among the shady babus in the State. As if doing an auction of the public services or putting govt jobs on sale, the fact is a majority of the pecuniary demands (Rs 2000 -Rs 3500) come from districts like Puri and Khordha, including the State Capital.
After all, why would one take 'high risk' for such a small amount of slush money?
This is so, when taking a cue from PM Narendra Modi, CM Naveen Patnaik has already dismissed 113 public servants from service on charges of corrupt practices and dealings since 2019.
The crooked seems apparently giving two hoots to the punitive action undertaken by the CM. The number of trap cases by the Odisha Vigilance in the last three months just gives the reality check.
2010 Vs 2021
The 'no fear' syndrome among the public servant is well evidenced from the fact that when the number of trap cases registered by Odisha vigilance in 2009 was 123, the numbers stood at 103 in 2020 (despite a pandemic-hit year, where most govt offices remained paralysed for nearly 90 days).
In the year 2021, the State Vigilance has to date filed around 90 trap cases, despite the 60-days lockdown period in the State.
Moreover, when the State's top anti-corruption agency had registered 83 DA cases in 2010, the numbers in 2020 stood at 93. In the last 3-months of the year 2021, 12 DA cases had been filed by the State Vigilance.
The above comparison shows the unflinching tendency of Odisha State government babus to fall for illicit money.
Why Odisha Babus Fall For Hush Money?
When in the decade of 2001-2010, the graft cases were up in Odisha from 316 to 437, the cases dropped to 353 in 2019 and 245 in 2020.
Even after less registration of cases, the number of graft cases pending for trial in the State has zoomed to 3463 in 2020 from 2727 in 2010.
This year conviction sentences handed down by special Vigilance courts were on cases dating to as far as 2006 and 2009. As per data analysis, around one-third of the cases have been pending for over 10-years in the State for trial. Nearly 1-2 percent of cases have been on trial for over 2-decades.
Such a long trial stage in graft cases is not good for proving a corrupt public servant guilty. For which, the conviction rate in trap cases is around 60 percent during the period, the data reveals.
Moreover, the conviction rate which was 53 percent in 2009 has dropped to 50 percent in 2020.
Data analysis of sentences handed down to corrupt babus in Odisha reveals that in nearly 94 percent of cases, the prison term has been 1-year only. In another 5.7 percent of cases, the prison term is only 2-years. And in less than 1 percent of cases, the prison term awarded has been 3-years.
Punishment Under PCA-1988?
A look at the Offences and Penalties section of PCA 1988 indicates the following.
As per senior advocate Nishikant Mahapatra, nearly 95 percent of convicted corrupt govt officials never undergo jail terms.
"Since the punishment awarded is below 3-years, they are entitled to secure bail if they go for higher appeal. Over the years, it had been observed that at least 95 percent of convicted public servants live in the comforts of their homes on the plea of going for appeal in higher courts. In such a scenario, how can a law prove a deterrent," he questioned.