Dhaka may clip anti-graft body’s wings


Dhaka : Bangladesh may clip the wings of its anti-graft body by amending the law.

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The cabinet Monday approved proposals for amendments to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) law, curbing its authority to file graft cases against government officials amid growing fear that the anti-corruption watchdog is losing its bite and independence, The Daily Star said Tuesday.

The ACC must obtain permission from the government before filing any graft case against government officials, according to one of the amendment proposals approved by the cabinet at its meeting presided over by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

This is a major departure from the 2004 Anti-Corruption Commission Act that allowed the commission to move independently in pursuing corruption cases against anyone, including government servants, the newspaper said.

Another amendment seeks to make the ACC accountable to the president of the republic. Other amendments are: anyone filing a false case could be jailed up to five years with fine and ACC investigators must complete investigation into a case within maximum 120 days.

The cabinet cleared the way for the amended ACC law to be placed in parliament.

The cabinet decision came amid signs the Awami League-led grand alliance government is bowing to the pressure of the bureaucrats rather than upholding its election pledge to ensure good governance, accountability and transparency.

The proposed amendments also upset the ACC chairman.

“The move will encourage corrupt government officials,” ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman told the Daily Star.

“It will also have an adverse impact on the activities of the rank and files of the commission.”

He said the current democratic government and the elected parliament are pledge-bound to strengthen the commission.

“I hope they will not pass a law that curtails the commission’s power in taking action against corrupt persons,” the ACC chief said.

The ACC has been fighting a losing battle in keeping its independence since the amendment move surfaced in 2009.

The ACC received support from anti-graft bodies like Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) which also criticised the move and urged the government to drop the plan.