Hyderabad: The recent arrests of Shaikpet Tahasildar Ch. Sujatha, a revenue inspector, and a sub-inspector has exposed deep-rooted corruption in the state's revenue department, once again. Sleuths of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Telangana seized lakhs of cash and gold from the tahsildar house and arrest followed as she failed to explain the source of the money. The two officials were caught demanding bribe from a landlord.

Even as the ACB continues to investigation into the alleged illegal assets of the Tahasildar, case studies shows that the parent department holds a history of protecting tainted officials. Besides, temporary departmental punishments, a high number of ACB trapped accused have not been behind bars.

Among the corrupt departments, revenue and stamps and registration tops the list, followed by the municipal administration wing. The state police is close behind. Disproportionate assets cases indicate that cases merely end up with the accused going scot-free.

We dig into history

On 14 March 2008, the ACB had registered a case against Younus Ali, an executive engineer in the then Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH). He was arrested and sent to judicial remand for corruption. However, to the ACB’s surprise, even before the investigating agency submitted a report, a decision was taken to initiate departmental action against him. A year later, the ACB sent a report seeking permission to prosecute him but the then chief engineer of MCH did not allow it and constituted a committee to start an inquiry. Months later, the case was closed and further action against the accused was dropped

In another case, the ACB officials raided the house of M. Sarat Babu, a motor vehicle inspector serving in the then united AP state’s transport wing, on 24 November 2009. The sleuths unearthed illegal properties worth Rs. 2 crore and registered a disproportionate assets case against him. Two weeks later, the man retired on voluntary grounds.

The ACB, after a detailed inquiry, submitted a report to the transport department seeking permission for prosecution. Subsequently, the director-general of the ACB sent a report stating that since the accused was no longer a serving employee, permission for prosecution was not required. However, the government did not agree and directed the ACB to defer the prosecution until a decision was taken. In return, the DG, disagreeing with the government order, again requested permission to launch a prosecution against the accused. Eleven years later, the man has not been prosecuted.

Meanwhile, on 20 May 2010, the ACB raided the house of Ch. Rama Murthy, the then assistant tribal welfare officer in Mahbubnagar district of Telangana. The searches unearthed illegal assets worth Rs. 70 lakh. The man was arrested and placed under suspension. However, the suspension was revoked despite charges of corruption against the man. Following a detailed inquiry, in February 2011 the ACB submitted a report to the parent department, requesting permission to prosecute him. He has still not been prosecuted and the file is pending with the government.

On 24 January 2015, the ACB trapped K. Penchala Krishna, the then general manager of district of industries and Commerce department of Adilabad district, and his colleague Prithivi Raj, accepting a bribe of Rs. 30,000 in return for an official favour. The two were suspended. The ACB submitted a report to the Vigilance Commission requesting to prosecute the two men, however, the commissioner transferred the case to the Tribunal for Disciplinary Proceedings. No progress has been made in the case.

In 2009, following reports of alleged corruption in the minor irrigation department in Nalgonda, sleuths of the Vigilance and Enforcement department started an inquiry and submitted a report. Investigations revealed grave irregularities in the execution of works and fake administrative sanctions in the office of the chief engineer of minor irrigation. The report said there was evidence of criminal misconduct in the case. Following this, several departmental inquiries were lodged. Seven years later, the Telangana government decided to keep all records, reports in abeyance until further orders. No progress has been made in the case.

Coreena Suares

Coreena Enet Suares is the Editor of NewsMeter. Her stories have been published in the Deccan Chronicle Newspaper and the Asian Age. Coreena began her career as a News Anchor. Throughout her journey, she has been able to build a strong network with people from all walks of life. She is an alumnus of Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists- Research and Investigation, a flagship initiative of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Coreena is also a certified fact-checker by Google India Initiative. She has attended the 'Defence Correspondents Course 2019, through which she visited Indo- Pak border, besides traveling on a War-ship and insight into operations of Fighter aircraft. Coreena's focus areas are anti-crime investigation agencies and Defence reporting.

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