Sunday, June 20, 2010

Anti-Corrupt Laws get teeth in M’rashtra; FIR against 28 corrupt officials

When dozens of corrupt officials of BMC, MHADA, Registrar of Cooperatives, Mumbai Police colluded with crooked redevelopers and the managing committee of Tilaknagar cooperative society to give Sanjraj Mangeshkar sleepless nights, they never imagined that he could have them booked under the anti corruption laws. But that is exactly what he succeeded in doing, after pursuing the matter for years with RTI applications and a writ petition in Bombay High Court. A Bombay High Court order that Sanjraj procured in September 2009 enabled him to register an FIR against 28 officials with the Anti Corruption Bureau in February 2010.

Sanjraj’s success has opened the way for thousands of other aggrieved citizens like him in their quest for justice. His writ petition stayed a government circular in force since 1972, which was being cited by the police as a reason for not registering such complaints against officials. The order by Justice Bilal Nazki and A R Joshi noted, “According to this circular when there is an allegation of corruption against an officer, before the Anti Corruption Department starts investigation it is required to refer the matter to the department to which such officer belongs, for a preliminary enquiry. We are of the prima facie view that once the offence is disclosed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, then the Investigating Agency under the Prevention of Corruption Act is bound to investigate the matter. Therefore, any circular placing restrictions on their power which is available to them under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Criminal Procedure Code appears to be illegal.

“On various occasions the respondents have sought time to argue the matter finally. Today also an adjournment is sought. In this view of the matter, we admit this petition and direct that the circular dated 21.2.1972 shall not be implemented by the Anti Corruption Agency and whenever a complaint is received by them, they shall investigate the matter irrespective of the circular, in accordance with law.”

This order relates to a Public Interest Litigation filed in 2008 by Anna Kishanrao More, with which Sanjraj’s matter (Criminal Writ Petition 1845/09 and Criminal Application 402/09) was clubbed for hearing. The PIL and Sanjraj’s petition are scheduled to be heard on June 10, and it is hoped that the dubious circular will be permanently quashed by the High Court. This will put a seal of finality on the new-found power of Maharashtra’s citizens to put corrupt officials, cops and others under the scanner.

2) Maharashtra Govt Circular 1972:
3) Bombay HC order Staying the above circular:
4) Mangeshkar's FIR against 28 persons (Marathi):
5) Names of 28 persons in FIR (English translation):
6) Sections of Prevention of Corruption Act & IPC applied against 28 persons in FIR (English translation):
7) Mangeshkar's heroic 5-year struggle against crooked redevelopers:

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