THE Anti-Corruption Commission’s exclusion of three ranking officials of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha from the charge sheet that the commission prepared in connection with a case filed over the illegal construction of five floors in the FR Tower, which caught fire on March 27, 2019 and left 27 people dead, appears to question the commission and its investigation. The case was filed on June 26, 2019 against people who included the building’s owner and a former Rajuk chair and two former members of the city planning authority. But the commission dropped the names of the former Rajuk chair and members and four others from the charge sheet that it approved on November 25, 2020, on grounds that they had not been involved in the corruption centring on the illegal construction of the floors. In the first information report, the commission, however, named all of them accused for their suspected involvement in the approval of the forged design. An internal investigation of Rajuk in June 2019 also found them involved the process.
The reasons that the commission gave in dropping charges against the accused in question appear to be lame excuses. Amidst allegations levelled by some commission officials that the investigator dropped some names as instructed by his superiors which the investigator, however, brushed aside although having said that he had discussed the matter with his superiors, charges against former Rajuk chair was dropped as the files had unnecessarily been sent to the chair who signed them ‘in good faith’ and the charge sheet says that the chair had no criminal intent in the process. Charges were dropped against a member as he was not on duty at the time and against the other member as he signed the file, ‘in good faith’, as suggested by his subordinates. His negligence in supervising the subordinates could, as the charge sheet says, entail departmental proceedings but that could not be done as the member had already retired. Charges were dropped against a former building inspector as he was president of the collective bargaining agent of the agency that time and his organisational work held him from performing his official tasks. While the treatment of the officials centring on their involvement in corruption cannot be something for the seniors, who are more responsible, and something else for the subordinates, who are less responsible than their seniors, this, on the whole, suggests a bias of the commission towards people who hold higher positions. Doing something ‘in good faith’, the absence of a criminal intent, doing something having been preoccupied by secondary responsibilities and a ranking official not being present during the approval can in no way be reasons for dropping charges against these people mired in corruption allegations.
The Anti-Corruption Commission should, therefore, reinvestigate the corruption allegations against former Rajuk officials at hand, excluded from the charge sheet on lame excuses. The commission should also look into if there have been interests at play for charges being dropped.
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