Hyderabad: In a revelation of sorts that sounds ridiculously preposterous, Telangana police failed to book 481 accused in transporting unaccounted cash during the 2018 general elections in the State. This is despite knowing who all were involved in the sordid crime.
Independent investigation revealed that about 640 cases related to seizure of money valued at Rs 84.36 crore were reported. However, of them FIRs were lodged in only 159 cases worth Rs 28.27 crore that translates to a meagre 24 percent of the actual amount that was netted.
Money to the tune of Rs 56.09 crore pertaining to the remaining 481 cases was released! What makes it worse, and comes as a blot on the police force and investigating agencies, is that in most of the cases, the names of those behind the racket was known to the officials. It is a clear-cut indication that while the accused were rounded up in petty cases while the big fish was left to go scot-free.
These were the finds of a methodical analyses conducted by Forum for Good Governance, which studied cases of money seizure during the 2018 elections. Crucial information was sought through RTI queries. A big conclusion was that a major portion of the seized money was released and cases were registered against those related to smaller amounts. For instance, in Gadwal rural, a case was registered after a paltry Rs 500 was seized from an individual!
The analysis found that although there are standard instructions not to insist on records when cash involved was less than Rs 50,000, the procedure was not followed. Again, where the amount exceeds Rs 10 lakh, it is mandated that IT department has to be alerted and involved, here the cases were booked in respective district with officials there taking unilateral decisions, irrespective of the amount.
In some cases, the seized money has been kept in fixed deposits but there was no action against those found guilty. For instance, Khammam’s Bonakal police seized Rs 49 lakh. The money, which belonged to a TDP leader, was deposited in FDs but no action was initiated against the culprit.
“It is simple. The money that was seized when the model code of conduct was in force was being transported for the specific purpose of bribing the voters, although Section 171 I.P.C clearly defined those offences. In many cases, the seized money was handed over to the IT department even as police did not book a case. The IT department looks into genuineness of money and not the criminal aspect. The Election Commission acted like a back-office to the IT department while merely handing over the seized money, observed Mr. M. Padmanabha Reddy, Secretary of Forum for Good Governance.
Cases studies indicating how Telangana police failed to take action against big fish who escaped punishment:
1. In Khanapoor Haveli of Khammam , an amount of Rs 10 lakh was seized. Subsequently, action against the person was dropped.
2. In Adilabad I Town Police station limits, an amount of Rs 81 lakh was seized; no case was registered but money was released.
3. In Chiragpally of Sangareddy, an amount of Rs 50 lakh was seized; again no case but money released
4. In Shamshabad Police station, Rs 17.26 seized-no case, money released.
5. In Wadapally of Nalgonda, an amount of Rs 24 lakh seized; no cases booked and money handed over to the district election authority
Cases studies indicating how Telangana police booked petty cases and arrests followed:
1. In Gadwal rural, Rs 500 was seized and a case was registered.
2. In Dammapet of Bhadradri district, police arrested three persons for possessing Rs 1,650
3. In Ashwaraopet of Bhadradri district, police booked a case against one for having Rs 2,200 in his possession
4. In Ashwapuram of Bhadradri one was arrested for possessing Rs 4,000.
5. In Peddapally, cops seized Rs 5,800 from eight persons and registered a case.
Hawala cases: It is observed that Hawala transactions were established in some cases. Jangoan police seized Rs 5.80 crore and Rs 10 crore in two separate cases; instead of transferring the case to the Enforcement Directorate given the quantum of money, the case is being dealt by Jangoan cops.