With 20 proposals for conducting open or preliminary inquiries against government officials pending sanction since 2012, Maharashtra’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has written to the state Home Department demanding that the practice of seeking government permission before initiating such probes against Class I officers or above should be abolished.
In a typical ACB inquiry, allegations of bribery or misconduct against any public servant or officer are first probed internally and in a secretive manner, also referred to as ‘closed inquiry’. If the ‘closed inquiry’ yields sufficient leads to justify an open inquiry – where the accused is asked to make a statement and the probe is conducted to check if a cognizable offence can be registered against the officer – the ACB has to seek sanction from Additional Chief Secretary (Home).
According to the statistics available on the ACB’s website, there are currently 20 such proposals from various units of the ACB pending with the state Home Department. Of these, seven are from Nashik bureau, four from Nagpur, three from Thane, two from Mumbai and one each from Pune, Amravati and Nanded bureaus.
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The one from Amravati bureau is against Deputy Inspector General of Police (Economic Offences Wing, Pune) Ajit Patil, while one of the seven proposals from the Nashik bureau is against former tribal development minister Vijaykumar Gavit.
“In 1981, the government issued a circular stating that ACB should seek sanctions before conducting a preliminary inquiry against Class I officers and above. We have now written to the government asking that the circular be withdrawn,” said Director General of Police (ACB) Praveen Dixit.
Senior ACB officials said the move comes after the Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the Central Bureau of Investigation does not need sanction from the government before investigating officers of the level of joint secretary and above.