Seventy two percent of the accused in cases filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission and the now-defunct Bureau of Anti-Corruption were released in the last three years as the cases could not be proved against them for different reasons.
According to the latest statistics available with the ACC, verdicts in 670 cases were pronounced between 2011 and February 2014 in which 483 cases could not be proved.
During 2009-2010, verdicts were delivered in 837 cases and the ACC failed to prove allegations in 44% of the cases.
For the situation, officials have blamed lack of evidence, weak inquiry report, hurriedness in filing cases and submission of charge sheets, mistakes in the inquiry and investigation reports, systematic fault, legal loopholes, and lack of efficient lawyers.
“When we start inquiring into an allegation the commission gives us another case in the midway due to lack of manpower. Even many officials have been transferred in the mid of their investigation. These are barriers for us and delay the cases,” an official said seeking anonymity since he was not authorised to speak to media.
Of the 670 cases, 267 were filed by the Bureau of Anti-Corruption (BAC).
In 2011, as many as 166 cases – filed both by the ACC and the BAC – were disposed of, among which, accused were released in 133 cases. In the following year, the ACC failed to prove 161 cases out of 224 while last year it was 164 against 255, according to the ACC statistics.
In the first two months of this year, the ACC failed to prove corruption charges in 25 cases when verdicts were pronounced in 31 cases.
Former ACC chairman Ghulam Rahman has pointed out that sluggishness of cases and legal- and process-related complexities were the main reasons behind the poor result.
“It is tough to manage the witnesses of cases for a long period while the ACC officials who retire before a case is disposed of are also reluctant to continue the cases since they are not given any allowance.”
“The statistics clearly shows that the ACC is now conducting inquiry into a huge number of cases filed by the Bureau of Anti-Corruption which is an indication of sluggish judicial process of the country,” he said.
Retired last year, the former chairman also mentioned about the lack of efficient lawyers as another key reason since an accused can appoint more “resourceful lawyer” than the ACC.
“The efficient and honest officials in the ACC have to take the responsibility to conduct inquiry into many cases at a time. There are some officials who were given the responsibility for inquiry and investigation of over 40 cases simultaneously. These take much time and create obstacles for officers to furnish reports on time,” he added.
Stay orders stay process
Meanwhile, the ACC is also facing hurdles in dealing with cases as one in every five filed by the agency is facing stay orders put by the courts.
It is creating barriers to disposal of speedy trial, officials said, adding that judgement of many cases had remained unsettled due to this reason.
According to the latest statistics, the proceedings of 3,026 cases have been stayed by orders from the High Court between 2011 and February 2014. Of them, as many as 1,432 cases were filed by the ACC while 1,594 by the BAC.
However, ACC panel lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan claimed that the failure rate was much lower than what the statistics shows.
“I have achieved successes in over 80% of the cases I conducted during the appeals stage and the results were in favour of the Anti-Corruption Commission,” he claimed. After the lower courts pronounce verdicts in the cases, the convicts file appeals with the High Court against the judgements.
“We will also file appeals with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the cases which we lost during trial at the High Court,” he added.
Admitting the fact, ACC Chairman M Bodiuzzaman told the Dhaka Tribune that they were working to find the weaknesses behind low success rate by analysing some cases.
“We are yet to get the momentum in achieving success. At the trial stage, we are maximum 40% successful,” he said after attending a programme yesterday.
To this end, the ACC is organising trainings for the inquiry and the investigation officials where the Supreme Court judges would discuss on the key issues of trial and the hurdles the officials face commonly.