A total of 683 corruption cases were under investigation by the CBI, 30 of them for more than five years, as on December 31, 2020, a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report released on Tuesday said. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is normally required to complete probe of a registered case within one year.
“Completion of investigation would imply filing of charge sheets in courts, wherever warranted, after receipt of sanction from the competent authority. The commission has observed that there have been some delays in completing investigations in certain cases," the report said.
The reasons for delay cited by the CVC report included “due to the COVID-19 pandemic", “due to work overload", “inadequacy of manpower", “delay in obtaining responses to Letters Rogatory (LRs)" and “verification of documents/title deeds, etc., in disproportionate asset cases".
The CVC’s annual report 2020 was tabled in Parliament during the recently-concluded Monsoon Session and uploaded on the its website on Tuesday. It said out of the total 683 corruption cases under investigation, 30 were pending for over five years, 92 for over three years but less than five years, 76 for more than two years but less than three years, 155 for over one year but less than two years and 330 were pending for less than one year.
The probity watchdog also expressed concerns about the slow progress of disposal of a large number of corruption cases pending trial in different courts for long periods, at times for over 20 years. Of the total 6,497 corruption cases pending trial, 212 were pending for over 20 years, 1,782 for more than 10 years and up to 20 years, 2,168 for more than five years and up to 10 years, 1,031 for over three years and up to five years and 1,304 for less than three years, as on December 31, 2020, it said.
“Such inordinate delays in investigation defeat the very purpose of efficient vigilance administration and are an impediment to the fight against corruption. The commission has been emphasising that effective measures are required to be taken to increase the disposal of pending PC (Prevention of Corruption) Act cases under trial/appeals/revisions in order to effectively combat corruption," the report said.
The pendency of these cases has been brought to the notice of authorities concerned with a request for such appropriate action as are possible to expedite the finalisation of such cases.
The reasons for delay in trials cited by the report included “due to limited number of hearings", “non-availability of witnesses", “dilatory tactics adopted by the accused by way of filing applications for transfer of cases from one court to another court challenging the legality of investigation by CBI and court stay, etc." and “inadequate strength of prosecution staff due to vacancies".. There were 11,578 appeals and revisions pending in PC Act cases in the Supreme Court and high courts as on December 31, 2020, it said.
Of these, 397 were pending for over 20 years, 643 for more than 15 years but less than 20 years, 1,824 for over 10 years but less than 15 years, 3,629 for more than five years but less than 10 years, 2,825 for over two years but less than five years and 2,260 for less than two years, the report said. It said that 80 cases of departmental action were pending at various stages against CBI personnel, as on December 31, 2020.
Of the total of 50 cases against Group A officers of the premier investigation agency, 25 were pending for more than four years. In 30 cases against Group B and C staff of the CBI, 10 were pending for more than four years, the report said.