‘Is ACC above the law? NO!’
We have noticed that many cases were filed for embezzlement of money through corruption in the banks, financial institutions and in many government departments but no positive steps are being taken to expedite the proceedings of inquiry, investigation and trial as well. No satisfactory explanations are being given by the commission.
The High Court in the full text of a verdict has come down hard on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for its failure to complete investigations and submitting their reports to the lower courts concerned in connection with corruption cases on time.
"…in many cases, even after years, the ACC couldn't submit charge-sheet/enquiry report which is totally a violation of statutory provisions of law. Moreover, in many cases no actions have been taken against the investigating/inquiry officer/s though there is a special provision for taking legal action/s against the officials concerned in the statute."
"We have noticed that many cases were filed for embezzlement of money through corruption in the banks, financial institutions and in many government departments but no positive steps are being taken to expedite the proceedings of inquiry, investigation and trial as well. No satisfactory explanations are being given by the commission."
"The question arises: is the commission above the law? The answer is certainly no," the HC bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Mohi Uddin Shamim observed in the full text of verdict.
The 72-page full text judgement was released on Tuesday after the judges completed writing and signing it.
ACC chief counsel Khurshid Alam Khan told The Daily Star that an investigation officer of the ACC gets maximum 270 working days for completing investigation into a corruption case under the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, 2004.
On January 24 this year, the HC bench delivered a short verdict on a revision petition filed by ACC challenging an order of Rangpur Special Judges Court that discharged Kurigram Rural Electrification Board's executive engineer Mominur Rahman and assistant engineer Zahirul Islam from a corruption case.
ACC filed the case against them after they were caught red handed with bribe-money on July 26, 2018.
In the short verdict, the HC scrapped the court order and cleared the trial court concerned to resume trial proceedings against Mominur and Zahirul.
In the full text of the verdict released on Tuesday, the HC bench directed the trial court to proceed with the case and conclude its trial as early as possible -- preferably within one year from the date of receiving this judgment and order.
"Nowadays, we see in various news media including electronic and print media that ACC is busy with recovering money than strengthening the legal procedures in major corruption cases as a result of which accused persons are getting advantages in their defence."
"Money recovery is not the duty of ACC as the law has not given them such power. The money recovery may be a prima facie presumption that the accused/person embezzled or laundered the money."
"It cannot be gainsaid that there is an ample opportunity for ACC to take speedy legal action/s against them," the HC judges said.
The HC bench said the functions of the commission have been briefly narrated in the ACC Act, 2004 and in the ACC Rules, 2007.
"The role of ACC has been defined in the statute itself and it cannot exercise any power which is not provided in the ACC act and rules," it said.
If the act/order/activity/inaction of the commission becomes contrary to the purpose and object of the act in preventing corruption and corrupt practices and if it remains silent in the matter, all its effort and the purpose of the ACC act would be frustrated.
"Under the aforesaid facts and circumstances of the case, our considered view is that if any act/order/inaction of ACC affects and frustrates the purpose and object of the ACC Act, 2004 and also affects the proceedings of inquiry and investigation and other specific offences… those act/order/inaction may be interfered with by this court," the HC judges observed in the full text.