Bhubaneswar, Oct 30 (SocialNews.XYZ) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday urged the state vigilance authorities to adopt the latest technologies and rope in more professionals having domain expertise in different fields for effective detection of benami transactions, money laundering and cases of corruption through digital transactions and investments in newer financial instruments like cryptocurrencies.
Addressing the gathering at a function on the occasion of Vigilance Awareness Week, 2023, Patnaik said corruption undermines growth, development and good governance.
“My government has therefore adopted a ‘Zero Tolerance’ approach to corruption so that public services are made available to the people of the state in a fair and transparent manner. Transparency is also a critical part of the 5T Initiative undertaken by our government with a view to achieve transformational goals in governance. With proactive steps like ‘Mo Sarkar’, we are also trying to empower people,” said Patnaik.
He asserted that the state government has taken many steps to strengthen the vigilance department. Fully functional vigilance offices have also been set up in all the districts of the state.
Emphasising his government’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ approach towards corruption, Patnaik stated that a good number of public servants have been dismissed from service and many have been given premature retirement after they were found indulging in corruption.
The CM congratulated the state vigilance department as it was among the top performing anti-corruption agencies in the country on all major parameters like registration and disposal of corruption cases and rate of conviction.
“I am particularly delighted to know that in the area of detection and registration of disproportionate assets cases, Odisha Vigilance has ranked number one in the country as per the latest NCRB data. I am also glad that in the last 12 months, Odisha Vigilance continued detecting cases of disproportionate assets against senior public functionaries," he added.
A computer based investigation and prosecution management system and the Vigilance Division office's new buildings at Balasore and Rourkela have been inaugurated by Patnaik through video conferencing.
Meanwhile, YK Jethwa, director of the state vigilance directorate, said during the meeting that the anti corruption agency has continued its relentless drive focusing on impactful detection and prosecution.
Odisha Vigilance has registered 202 cases against 365 persons including 38 class-I officers and 37 class-II officers, 161 class-III employees, seven class-IV employees, 48 other public servants and 74 private persons till October 27 this year.
As many as 61 cases of the 202 were registered against 72 public servants and 34 private persons on the charges of acquisition of disproportionate assets. The total disproportionate assets in all the 61 cases have been valued at Rs.93.29 crores.
According to the data shared by the state vigilance, 66 cases have been registered against 168 persons, including 141 public servants and 27 private persons, on the charges of misappropriation of public funds amounting to about Rs.44.38 crores during the above period.
It submitted charge sheets in 198 cases against 486 persons including 42 class-I and 31 class-II officers after the completion of investigation in 232 cases till October 27, 2023.
“During this period, 89 cases have ended in conviction against 13 Class-I officers, eight Class-II officers, 77 Class-III employees, one Class-IV employee, nine other public servants and ten private persons. Thus, altogether, 118 accused persons have been convicted during the period. The percentage of conviction in respect of cases disposed off after trial by the Court comes to approximately 50%,” informed vigilance sources.
Meanwhile, 27 public servants including four Class-II officers, 22 Class-III employees and one other public servant were dismissed from service following their conviction in vigilance cases this year. The pension of 15 retired public servants was stopped after they were found guilty by the court in various corruption cases.
The vigilance director informed that the department has so far unearthed disproportionate assets worth Rs 268 crores with record seizures of concealed ill-gotten cash in 2022 and 2023. It conducted searches at over 600 locations, froze 898 bank accounts of corrupt public servants, carried out technical evaluations of 111 buildings and projects in 2022.
Jethwa asserted that the vigilance academy will soon have a state of the art building. They have also recruited professionals having domain expertise in legal, engineering fields for better detection and prosecution of corruption cases.
“We have just recruited Prosecution Liaison Officers for every vigilance court in the state, and they have started acting as additional watchdogs, monitoring and strengthening prosecution and trial,” Jethwa added.