VALUABLE DATA ON CORRUPTION
Do you know that the highest number of corruption cases are registered in Maharashtra (4566) and the lowest in West Bengal (only 9) between 2000 and 2009? Do you also want to know how much property has been recovered from the corrupt in different states of India in the past ten years? But how does one systematically track corruption? How to get details of the number of cases going on against public servants/ politicians at the centre and in different states?
To simplify things for the media, public spirited individuals and everybody else who is concerned about the rising cost of corruption for India's real growth, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has put together an interactive and comprehensive data bank which is available at the click of a mouse. (The interactive visualisation of corruption data from 2000 to 2009 is available at http://bit.ly/eDES7S ). The material has been painstakingly prepared from sources like PRS Legislative Research, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) Different ministries of the Government of India, including the Ministry of Personnel which is given the task of maintaining transparency, and many other important websites like that of the Lok Sabha.
According to a release from Venkatesh Nayak of the CHRI, the cases compiled here pertain to State-wise registrations, year-wise convictions, and the value of property seized or recovered.
Even as we debate what the proposed Lokpal institution should look like and do, the existing anti-corruption mechanisms seem to be doing something to tackle corruption. A frequent complaint is that corruption cases do not reach their logical conclusion within reasonable time limits. Delays in the registration and investigation of cases and the long wait for government's sanction for prosecution of the accused are two major factors that prevent speedy disposal of cases. The anti-corruption mechanisms established in different States are working to tackle corruption albeit at differential speeds and varying impact. We may not be happy with the results but all cases of corruption do not seem to be falling through a blackhole. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) collects and publishes on an annual basis data from across the country about corruption cases as well as other criminal cases.
1) Two States with the highest number of registered cases also had poor rates of conviction. Maharashtra had the highest number of cases registered (4,566) with a conviction rate of 27%. Recovery or seizure of property from the accused was a measly Rs. 9.1 crore. Rajasthan had the second highest number of registered cases at 3,770 with a conviction rate of 1/3rd. Recoveries stood at a mere Rs. 9.7 crores.
This dataset does not tell us how the Central Government- the biggest entity of all Governments in the country has tackled corruption. According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Personnel the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered 2,276 corruption cases during the years 2008-2011 (up to 31st March). The CBI had filed chargesheets in 1,924 cases during the same period (though some of these cases may have been registered much earlier). Information about rates of conviction and recovery of properties is hard to come by.
For the full text of the Ministry's answer please click on or cut and paste in the address box : http://22.214.171.124/LssNew/psearch/QResult15.aspx?qref=103492
Data about conviction rates and recoveries in corruption cases is not available easily in the public domain. This is one area which desperately needs proactive disclosure by all governments, State and Central. Disclosure of Statistics relating to corruption must be made voluntarily under Section 4(1)(b)(xvii) of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Section 4(1)(b)(xvii) permits the appropriate government to proactively publish any other information relating to its working. This data must be uploaded on websites and updated every month.
A well drafted Bill based on sound constitutional and legal principles will be the first step towards making this happen. Changes in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 will also be necessary apart from developing an independent and effective mechanism for combatting corruption in the judiciary.
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