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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Even as CM Naveen Patnaik has so assiduously decided to go for 'Mo Sarkar' and 5T in 2019, the big NCRB blooper has been Odisha figured among the handful of states like Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Jammu & Kashmir, who didn't provide the 2018 data regarding Prevention of Corruption Act -1988 to NCRB.

While NCRB claimed Odisha didn't supply 2018 PCA data, Odisha Vigilance in early part of 2019 had released the 2018 report.

The NCRB 2018 report, therefore, has used the 2017 data in case of the above mentioned states, including Odisha.

The mention worthy fact here is in 2017, Odisha had topped the country in cases of criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 (PC Act-1988). This is a section in PC Act that deals with habitually corrupt public servants.

Odisha Vigilance had filed a total of 222 criminal misconduct cases under PCA-1988 in year 2017. The numbers registered under the Section -13 of PCA-1988 hints at how corruption at public places has become an habitual offence.

What is Section - 13 of the PCA -1988?  It terms a public servant committing an offence of criminal misconduct when he habitually accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain from any person for himself or for any other person any gratification other than legal remuneration; or if he dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriates or otherwise converts for his own use any property entrusted to him or under his control as a public servant or allows any other person so to do etc.

As per the Odisha Vigilance report 2018, the total cases filed under PCA stood at 429 vis-a-vis 494 in 2017. This includes 182 Trap cases, 98 DA (Disproportionate Assets) cases and 149 Criminal misconduct cases.

It needs mentioning here that in 2017 Odisha topped the country with highest number of Disproportionate Assets (DA) cases under the PCA-1988. Anti-graft bodies investigate DA cases as per section 13(1) (e) of PCA-1988.

Significantly, higher proportion of Both DA and Criminal misconduct cases convey prevalence of high level of habitual corruption in a State. And In 2017, both - DA & Criminal misconduct - cases  constitute over 67 per cent of total PCA cases. The State Vigilance 2018 report shows DA and criminal misconduct cases account for over 57 per cent of the total PCA cases in Odisha.

Significantly, the drop in PCA cases filed in 2018, as per Odisha Vigilance report, has been attributed to lesser DA and criminal misconduct cases. Because, the number of trap cases in 2018 had risen to 182 from 161 in 2017.

An analysis of State Vigilance data further reveals that over 72 per cent of DA cases in Odisha were filed against Class -III and II officials. Babus (Class-I officers) account for a share of mere 20 per cent. And when it comes to DA cases against the netas (politicians), the number displays nil cases.

Why babus and karamcharis have become habitually corrupt in Odisha?

While Odisha Vigilance claimed to have a conviction rate of 51 per cent in 2018 vis-a-vis 47 per cent in 2017, Tamil Nadu had recorded the highest conviction rate of 73 per cent in 2018, shows the NCRB 2018 report.

Moreover, a factor responsible for poor conviction is high pendency at the investigation stage. Though Odisha Vigilance 2018 report was silent on pendency,  NCRB report had put the pendency rate for Odisha at a massive 92 per cent in 2017.

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