Vigilance Chinks: Graft cases filed drop to 5-year low in 2018

Over 1,100 cases are pending for investigation in Odisha. The pendency rate in courts stood at 93% in 2018. Conviction rate hovered around 50%. 'Tainted' seizures touched a record Rs 149 crore in 2018

Bhubaneswar: Even as Odisha Vigilance has observed the National Vigilance Awareness Week with much fanfare, the harsh reality is a massive over a thousand cases are pending for investigation in Odisha.

Consider this. A massive of around 1,100 cases registered by Odisha Vigilance over the years are pending for investigation by the end of the year 2018.  And the disconcerting fact is cases pending in courts stood at a whopping 3,148 by the end of year 2018. The pendency rate in the State stood high at around 93 per cent.

And the big trend observed is the cases registered by Odisha Vigilance under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) posted a consecutive decline for two straight years.

When the total cases registered in year 2017 stood at 494, it dipped to 429 in 2018. The cases registered in 2018 is lowest in last 5-years.

But the big discerning reality is despite dip in cases, the State Vigilance keeps making bigger seizures over the years.

Sample this. In the year 2014, the State Vigilance had seized mere Rs 29 crore. The numbers went up to  Rs 107 crore in 2017 and the big numbers in 2018 stood at a massive Rs 149 crore. The big takeaway here is the numbers mirror the pace of loot in Odisha.

After all, when the chance of acquittal in the State stood at fifty per cent , the public plunder can move only in top gear.

As per the data available, when in 2017 a high of 132 saw honourable acquittal, only 119 got convicted. In 2018, the acquittals stood at 108 against conviction of 110.

Moreover, data for the period 2001-2018 reveals that the department had charge sheeted over 1,700 trap cases for trial, only a half of it ended with conviction. In the given scenario, the moot point is If such would be the outcome in trap cases, well known as open- and- shut cases, then how could pace of corruption in Odisha take a southward drive.

Significantly, the overdrive of CM Naveen Patnaik in dismissing tainted government officials from service is not going to bring any salutary impact. The reason is during the last two years – 2017 and 2018, a high of 68 tainted officials had been sacked.