It is clear to everybody that doing something (graft) in good faith is not a crime. Even if it (the corruption) is something big, it is also not a criminal offence
In a controversial remark, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Chairman Iqbal Mahmud said if government officials or employees commit any mistakes or irregularities in ‘good faith,’they are not crimes.
“It is clear to everybody that doing something (graft) in good faith is not a crime. Even if it (the corruption) is something big, it is also not a criminal offence,” he said.
He was replying to queries of reporters after attending a session on the last day of the five-day deputy commissioners’ (DC) conference at the Secretariat in Dhaka on Thursday.
“It is mentioned in the Penal Code that anything done in good faith cannot be termed a crime; it is called general exception,” Iqbal Maumud said.
He, did however go on to say that good faith has to be in line with ‘care and caution.’
The anti-graft agency chief added: “Filing cases is not our goal; our goal is to stop corruption. Then remove it. We have asked the DCs to see how the ACC works, and inform us about any graft.”
Contacted, Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB),Dr Iftekharuzzaman, said such a statement would deepen public mistrust in government officials.
“A number of government officials will also take advantage of good faith, thu, indulging in corruption on a broader scale, breaching the law,” he said, terming the ACC chairman’s statement “unacceptable.”
“Who will identify whether corruption was committed in good faith or not?” he questioned.
A number of laws enacted recently have the provision of good faith, which begs the question regarding its necessity, Iftekharuzzaman concluded.
Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua also reacted to the comment, saying: “There is no explanation in the law with regard to graft in good faith.”
“There is no scope (for public servants) to defend themselves, even a bribery by mistake,” he said.
Nevertheless, the lawyer said there are some exceptions such as sections 52, 76, and 103 in the fourth chapter of the Penal Code.
Referring to Section-76 of the Penal Code, he said: "Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who is, or who by reason of a mistake of fact, and not by reason of a mistake of law, in good faith believes him to be, bound by law to do it."