R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, May 11 – More than 150 anti-corruption cases of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are pending before the Court of the Special (CBI) Judge, Assam for years and ten of these cases are pending for more than 20 years.Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the conviction rate of the cases by the Guwahati branch of the CBI was 80 per cent in 2009, which was one of the highest in the country. But last year, the conviction rate came down to only around 34 percent, while, two old pending cases were also withdrawn after receiving due permission from the competent authorities to do so.
Giving reasons for the drop in conviction rate last year, sources said that there was no Judge in the Court of Special (CBI) Court of the State for eight months, as a result of which the cases were pending for long time. Sources said that though one Judge has been appointed in the Court now, the same Judge is also given additional charge of the Court of Special Judge, Assam and Court of Special Judge (NIA) as a result of which the trials got delayed.
Sources revealed that the Supreme Court has also expressed its concern over the large number of pending cases all over the country and it was decided by the Government of India that 71 new Special (CBI) courts would be set up all over the country to expedite the process of trial of the cases. Two new such courts have been sanctioned for Assam and it is up to the State Government to provide buildings and other infrastructure for it.
Meanwhile, sources revealed that Guwahati branch of the CBI is now investigating into 18 anti-corruption cases and two of those are against one garrison engineer of the Indian Air Force. Sources said that according to information gathered by the CBI so far, the engineer manipulated papers to siphon off around Rs 20 lakh and investigation into the case is now on.
Sources said that another major case under investigation by the Guwahati branch of the CBI is of irregularities in sanctioning of loans by the State Bank of India in Arunachal Pradesh. As per the allegations, loans amounting to more than Rs one crore were given to "non-existent beneficiaries".
A major case involving a cement factory in Meghalaya is also under investigation by the CBI. Sources said that the cement company located in the Jayantiya Hills, signed fuel supply agreement with the Coal India Limited for supply of 38,000 MT a year of A grade coal from the coal fields of Margherita coalfields for the years 2008.2009 and 2010 and the cement company procured 70,000 MT of coal during the period. The coal was provided to the company at subsidized rate and as per the agreement, the company cannot use the coal in any other purpose than the cement factory.
But during investigation, it was found that the coal laden trucks did not enter Meghalaya and there was no record of the trucks in the check gates of the State. This proved that the coal lifted from the Margherita coal fields at subsidized rate either must have been used somewhere else in violation of the agreement or the same was sold in the open market at much higher rate. The incident resulted in loss of revenue amounting to Rs 15 crore to the Coal India Limited as the company could earned more by selling the coal in the open market. A thorough investigation into the case is now on by the CBI.
The CBI is also investigating into a case of disproportionate assets against an engineer of the Postal Department after Rs 6.50 lakh was seized from his possession.