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Stay delays trial of 518 ACC suits

Sajibur Rahman | Published: December 14, 2019 16:56:33 | Updated: December 14, 2019 21:56:48


The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was unable to move with the trial of 518 high-profile graft cases, thanks to stay orders by the High Court (HC) until October this year.

The lawsuits were registered against public servants, public representatives, politicians, bankers and tradespeople.

Of the 518 cases, according to ACC, trial proceedings of 261 ones were halted until this October.

Similarly, the trial of 257 cases, which were filed under the now-defunct Bureau of Anti-Corruption, was also put on hold until the period in question.

The data of the anti-graft watchdog showed a total of 569 graft cases were shelved by the higher court as of October 2018.

ACC senior prosecutor advocate Khurshid Alam Khan said it is true that the number of graft cases stayed by the HC is not decreasing at a good pace.

But many corruption cases are already settled while dozens are on the cause list for hearing, he added.

The corruption-busting agency is very vigilant to expedite the trial proceedings and settle the cases as early as possible, Mr Khan told the FE.

The conviction rate in graft cases is 70 per cent now, thus proving that many stayed cases were vacated, he claimed.

The Supreme Court lawyer hoped the cases would be settled without delay as they are actively engaged in the legal battle to finish the trial.

The FE asked the executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), Dr Iftekharuzzaman, for his comment on the pending ACC cases.

He said, "The data shows an important aspect of challenges of fighting corruption and ensuring accountability, which does not depend on ACC alone."

ACC may face challenges like a deficit of capacity in handling complicated and sophisticated cases and a deficit of commitment to act against the so-called big fish with political links.

It is imperative to ensure efficiency, commitment and integrity of the whole set of ACC and other relevant institutions to establish rule of law and justice in the country.

But the irony is the burden of a large number of stay orders and backlogs due to complex procedures in the court often unduly falls on ACC, Mr Zaman told the FE.

Considering the shocking logjam of cases and the complaints that ACC receives, he said, it is vital for the judiciary to boost its capacity for fast disposal of these cases.

In view of its lessons from the challenges and public expectations, ACC should prioritise high-profile cases and invest more in enhancing its investigation and prosecution capacity, Mr Zaman cited.

sajibur@gmail.com

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