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13th-Apr-2014

ACC is not a trial court and investigation is not for public humiliation

By Editorial Desk

The people are too much ignored and bypassed. That is the politics of the country. But the country belongs to the people and patriotism is not only for politics of the politicians.  The ACC was formed with the hope that it would be a threat against big corruption and the honest ones would feel safe. The preamble and Section 3(2) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2004 provide that the Commission will be "independent and neutral". Under the Caretaker Government the Act was amended by an Ordinance on November 22, 2007 to give it a "self-governed"(shoshashito) status. By another ordinance the Commission's jurisdiction was expanded to include the Money Laundering Act 2002 into its schedule. Now even the offence for ordinary cheating under Section 420 of the Penal Code has been brought within the jurisdiction of the ACC.  So if the Commission officials want they can be very oppressive with the general public. And that what it has become. And that is the way the people feel.The amended Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Bill 2013 passed in Parliament on November 10 made it mandatory for the ACC to secure prior government permission before filing any case against public officials including judges, magistrates or public servants for alleged corruption. Already, the ACC is being used as instrument in the hands of the government for degrading and humiliating publicly the political opponents.  There are many instances when the same individual is asked by ACC officials to come to the office again and again. They also visit the person's house any number of times they choose. This cannot be called serious investigation by experienced officials. The Commission takes full advantage of its special relationship with the government to abuse its own power. The Commission officials want it to be known that they are above accountability. Though they should not be wholly blamed for their abuse of power because it has become so normal for the government departments to abuse power or authority for taking graft. The officials know how free corruption is at the top.But the people's expectation was that the Commission would fight big corruption in high places and not deal with any and every allegation of corruption. The normal law of the country is there to deal with these.So firstly, the ACC must feel restrained about its own power and not see it as a trial court. Secondly, investigation is not to be treated as an opportunity for public humiliation. The Commission will have to show the success by speedy conviction of big thieves of public money. The people are not aware that any big corruption case has ended in conviction. But quizzing goes on month after month.  We want to build this country where honest and respectable people will have nothing to worry. But the truth is the honest people are most helpless. Money is the law. There is no doubt that there are honest officials in the ACC and they must assert to prove that the Anti-Corruption Commission is not another oppressive machinery for corruption. Let it concentrate on big corruption or do nothing by way of protest.