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ACC serving ruling party purposes

Civil society leaders question role of anti-graft body

By Special Correspondent
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Representatives of professional and civil society  bodies  have said that the purpose for which anti-graft watchdog  Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) was formed  under the Constitution, has failed to produce the desired result.  Since inception, they said, it has been functioning as a subservient institution  of the government.
Khondker Mahbub Hossain, president of Supreme Court Bar Association  talking  to The New Nation  on Thursday  said that the ACC is busy conducting investigation  of wealth of   those who are in  opposition politics.  But the result of its investigation, he said, is not visible   as a result  the  role of  ACC   has become controversial. The public perception about ACC is  the anti-graft body is run as per the government's directive to harass and humiliate the opposition leaders and activists, he alleged. " We have not seen success of ACC except lodging of cases against opposition men. The ACC should be reconstituted  for the purpose for which it was created and  not to serve the purpose of the ruling party," he said.
Former adviser to caretaker government Dr. Akbar Ali Khan said  the question which is being raised about   poor   performance  of  ACC,  the country's judicial  system can also  be  partially blamed  for it. People are also raising question about credibility of ACC, Dr. Khan  said adding those in  ACC  leadership should make their activities transparent taking people into confidence in conducting investigation of corruption cases.
Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB)  said  since creation  of the ACC it has been treated as a subservient institution  to the government.  
The government, he said, which ever is in power, has always  treated ACC as a subservient body  of the government.  It is being used directly or indirectly  to serve the purpose of the government, he said adding it is a question of mindset.
ACC, he said,  carries the baggage of the erstwhile Bureau of Anti-corruption (BAC) so it cannot consider itself as an independent body to hold political and administrative authority to account. The TIB Executive Director said, " ACC has a tendency  to focus  more on allegation of corruption  against the opposition men  than on  government leaders."
ACC also suffers from legal and leadership weaknesses, he said adding corruption in Bangladesh is so deep and all pervasive  that the institution   fails to cope with it.
Professor Asif Nazrul of Dhaka University  said the credibility of   ACC has become questionable as  the judge who has given verdict in money laundering case against  BNP leader  Tarique Rahman, has been made  a subject of investigation of the anti-graft body. ACC , he said, is not seen initiating investigation of big corruption cases involving ruling party leaders.   ACC has been conducting investigation  of  wealth  of those who are critical of the government, he said  adding  in the process the institution has proved itself as  subservient  to the government.
Chairman of ACC M. Badiuzzaman when contacted  on Thursday  admitting weaknesses of the anti-graft body said, " We have to depend on different departments for records and evidence. Most of the time we don't get relevant documents   in time. So the success rate of  ACC  cases  is poor varying between 30- 35 per.
Responding to the allegation of its   role as a subservient body to the government, he  said, it is because  in the past  Bureau of Anti-corruption (BAC) was under the prime minister's office. Today, he said, ACC works independently.
"We are trying our best to restore people's confidence in ACC , which may however, take sometime,"  he said. Responding  to another question , he said,  ACC  has shortage  of required  skilled manpower.    

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