Sunday, December 06, 2009

300 crorepati babus in Bihar!

PATNA: A staggering 300 Bihar government employees earning modest government salaries are crorepatis. If this isn’t surprising enough, here’s more:

All but two of the sleazy 300 continue to hold on to their secure as also, no doubt, lucrative - government jobs despite long stints in jails.

According to official figures, 71 such corrupt babus were caught until November this year by the state vigilance bureau. In 2006, when chief minister Nitish Kumar cracked the whip on graft, 70-odd ‘trap’ cases led to the arrest of 76 employees. This figure shot up to 131 in 2007; while 97 others were caught with their hands in the till in 2008. Of these 365 arrested babus, Vigilance Bureau found 300 of them had assets and other valuables running into crores.

In the last four years, chargesheets were submitted against 596 gazetted and 632 non-gazetted public servants apart from 302 others, including those arrested before 2006. With just one vigilance court in Bihar for ‘trap’ cases, only a handful of them have been convicted so far. Worse, the departments concerned have been indifferent about sacking the convicts.

The only two corrupt public servants fired were clerks — one in commercial taxes department and the other in the agriculture department.

“The vigilance bureau has no role in the dismissal of government servants arrested on corruption charge,” said ADG (vigilance) Anil Sinha. “Our job is to arrest them, file FIRs, investigate the case, submit chargesheets and put them on trial,’’ he said, adding dismissal has to be ordered by the departments concerned.

Sinha admits trials in such cases haven’t been fast because there is just one court for ‘trap’ cases. “But the pace of trials has increased, with court proceedings taking place daily,’’ he added.

Another senior cop said speedy trial and conviction of such employees would go a long way in discouraging others. The vigilance department, too, feels that dismissals would create a sense of fear among other greedy babus. Nitish Kumar has emphasised the need for special courts to deal exclusively with trap and disproportionate assets cases. ``If I had my way, I’ll have illegal properties amassed by them confiscated and open schools in their palatial buildings,’’ Kumar said.

The state government has already got a Bihar Special Courts Bill, 2009, passed by the state legislature which provides for confiscation of assets of corrupt government servants. But the Bill’s awaiting Centre’s approval.

“It is pending with the Centre since March this year despite reminders from the CM who has even met Union law minister Veerappa Moily in this regard,’’ a senior state official said.