Staff Correspondent: The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) is currently awaiting the disposal of over 6,500 cases cases across various courts. This number continues to grow as new cases are filed daily.
However, the pace of case disposition remains sluggish. While hearings and testimonies take place, the actual settlement of cases is not progressing as desired.
ACC officials believe that aside from the substantial backlog of cases across multiple courts, including the trial court, the inability to produce witnesses is one of the reasons for the delay. Furthermore, proceedings in 431 cases have been stayed on the orders of the High Court.
Case documents from the Anti-Corruption Bureau, which was dissolved in 2004, could not be found.
However, as of December 2022, a total of 412 cases filed during the bureau’s tenure are awaiting disposal. Of these, 187 have been stayed on the orders of the High Court.
According to the ACC, a total of 39 cases of the bureau were settled in Dhaka and outside Dhaka last year.
ACC’s case handling
According to the court and ACC sources, the anti-graft body initiates legal proceedings against politicians, business figures, and present and past government personnel and their family members, based on a range of accusations.
These allegations encompass activities such as accumulating wealth exceeding known sources of income, evading income taxes, engaging in bribery, misappropriating money, participating in money laundering, and more.
ACC officials say that one of the responsibilities of the ACC is to bring the offenders involved in the crimes under the law.
Additionally, the ACC functions as a prosecuting entity, taking on the role of investigating allegations and pursuing cases related to corruption.
Verdicts, disposal of cases
The ACC mentioned that some 346 cases were disposed of in the Special Judge’s Court in 2022.Of these, 307 cases were filed by the commission, and there are 39 cases of the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
A total of 346 cases filed by the ACC have been disposed of in the trial or subordinate courts. A total of 211 cases have resulted in convictions.
A judge in Dhaka disposed of 130 cases in 2022. On the other hand, verdicts in 99 cases were given in subordinate courts in the quarter from January to March 31 this year.
Of these, 62 cases resulted in convictions.
Significant sentences in six months
On January 5 this year, a lower court gave a verdict that led to the conviction of Rafiqul Alam, the owner of M/s Shafiq Trading and Company Limited, and his associate Abdus Samad.
Both were sentenced to one year of imprisonment and were also imposed fines amounting to Tk5.50 crore each.
Simultaneously, on that very day, Enayet Hossain, an assistant sub-registrar from Gopalganj, received a verdict that ordered seven years of rigorous imprisonment.
Several other significant cases have resulted in verdicts in the last six months.
Handling cases in courts
According to ACC sources, after a case is filed, the defendants can go to the High Court, including the trial courts, to get legal remedies.
Many also go to the High Court for a stay on the case.
When one is asked for an account of a person’s assets, one can also file a writ petition in the High Court challenging the validity of the ACC’s relevant notice.
The ACC cannot carry out its proceedings until the writ is disposed of. For this reason, the number of pending cases is increasing.
The ACC has its own panel of lawyers in the subordinate courts to handle the cases. Besides, 26 lawyers are engaged in the Appellate Division and the High Court Division of the Supreme Court to handle the ACC’s cases.
ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said: “Corruption cases regularly take place in the courts. The ACC has nothing to do here. Efforts are being made to settle all the cases at the earliest. Many cases are on the list.”
Mosharraf Hossain Kajal, another senior ACC lawyer, said: “When a case is filed, it becomes a court case. The court settles the cases in its own way. Witnesses need to come here and testify. If the witnesses do not come, the court takes action.
“If the case is prolonged, both the plaintiff and the defendant suffer. But everything is within the court’s jurisdiction,” he added.
Words from ACC
“We have nothing to do with the cases that are being handled by courts already. The court will rule only after a full trial,” ACC Secretary Mahbub Hossain said.
He continued: “And once we have a case, the investigation is time-bound under the Anti-corruption Commission Act 2004.”. In some cases, however, officials are not able to complete the investigation in time. Gathering information, data, testimony, and documents takes a long while. But we have commission meetings every week. The commission is vigilant so that the investigation into the case is not prolonged.”
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