No excuse for ACC’s bias towards top govt officials
We are appalled to learn about the "soft stance" of the Anti-Corruption Commission towards top government officials, particularly those in the admin cadre. According to a report published in this daily, the ACC top brass is reluctant to pursue graft cases against the admin cadre officials; instead, they ask the ACC investigators to go after petty employees. Our report has cited at least three instances where corruption allegations against some of the top bureaucrats were swept under the rug by the top tier of ACC. Rather than take action against those systematically swindling taxpayers' money, the ACC seems more keen on reprimanding those investigators who dared try to expose the corruption.
Reportedly, in 2017, an ACC commissioner (investigation) ordered an assistant director of the commission to probe a graft allegation raised against the government's social safety net programme in Narail's Lohagara upazila—about Tk 2 crore was allegedly misappropriated through fake projects to pocket funds from the government scheme. As the commission filed two cases against the government officials and others involved, and were preparing to file two more cases, the assistant director investigating the matter was served a show-cause notice by the commission. The ACC then appointed a new investigation officer who recommended submitting a final report, instead of a charge sheet, before the court. Eventually, the two cases that were filed in this connection were also closed.
The ACC's apparent bias towards the country's top bureaucrats was exposed recently when the commission sacked Sharif Uddin, a deputy assistant director of the commission. According to ACC insiders, he was "punished" for bringing corruption charges against some top government officials.
This begs the question: What is the point of the anti-graft watchdog, if not to look into graft charges and take appropriate actions? ACC was formed as an independent body to investigate and curb corruption. Sadly, it is gradually losing its independent character and seems to be giving in to the pressure from the corrupt quarters, as exposed by the incidents mentioned above. It has also been reported that ACC investigations are dominated by former bureaucrats sent to the commission on deputation. Naturally, they have little knowledge about ACC's investigation method, which also comes in the way of an impartial investigation.
We urge the ACC to play its designated role and not give a clean chit to the corrupt government officials. They must take action against those who are corrupt, no matter how powerful they are. If the ACC fails to do so, they will not only lose their reputation, but also public trust.