So much for independent ACC
THAT the Anti-Corruption Commission has dropped more than 3,000 graft cases, many of them against influential members of the ruling political coterie, as reported by New Age on Friday, is indeed frustrating, particularly for those expecting the commission to play an effective role against high-profile corruption. In this regard, many would remember that the commission came into existence, on the debris of the old Bureau of Anti-Corruption, in the face of sustained social pressure for an independent and powerful corruption watchdog to contain corrupt practices of the politically powerful nexus of corrupt sections of politicians, unscrupulous businesspeople and dishonest bureaucrats. While it is true that the political incumbents have snatched away some of its legal strength to combat corruption, the commission still has adequate power to pursue corruption cases against powerful people, both in and outside the government. Unfortunately, it appears that the commission primarily lacks moral strength to stand firm against the government’s immoral recommendations to drop cases against those connected to the governing circles.
The commission’s moral vulnerability has also been exposed by the fact that it has hardly dropped any graft case against the ruling Awami League’s political opponents. Worse still, the commission has recently started investigation against a judge, who has relieved an opposition leader from a case, providing a clear hint that it would allow itself to be used by the government to harass and intimidate the opposition political camp. Apparently, the commission has assumed the role of the old anti-corruption bureau, which the conscientious sections of the people never desired it to do. As such, there are already talks in larger society whether or not the purpose of creating the commission has been defeated.
Still, the Anti-Corruption Commission has the scope to stand firm against immoral manipulation by the government to save the skin of the corrupt sections of people belonging to ruling quarters on the one hand and intimidate the rulers’ political opponents on the other. The members of the commission should realise that people at large expect them to take on the powerful corrupt people, irrespective of their political colour, and that they would enjoy enormous public support, if they take a party-neutral stance against corrupt people in general who have been eating up public wealth for decades now. However, if it fails to take a moral stand in this regard, society at large may not take much time to stand against the commission itself, for it is useless to spend public money on a group of people morally incapable of pursuing corruption cases against those in the corridors of power.
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