Bhubaneswar: Showing zero tolerance towards corruption, Odisha Government dismissed an Assistant Engineer for tendering false testimony during trial to help a corrupt official in a Vigilance case.
Based on recommendation of Odisha Vigilance, who has initiated aggersive actions to tackle hostility of witnesees for which many accused officials are being acquitted in graft cases, the Housing & Urban Development Department of Odisha Government sacked Upendra Bhanja Naik, Assistant Engineer of RWSS Section at Bijepur in Bargarh district from his service.
According to release by Odisha Vigilance, Upendra Bhanja Naik while serving as the JE of RWSS Section at Sohela in Bargarh district had been requisitioned as an official witness against accused Anand Saraf, the then Senior Clerk posted at Office of Executive Engineer, West Electrical Division, Bargarh in a vigilance case. Although, Naik was the key witness in alleged transaction of bribe, he resiled from his earlier statements and deposed false evidence to help the accused leading to acquittal in the case.
His dismissal order was received at Odisha Vigilance Directorate on Friday.
Worth mentioning that Odisha Vigilance has started taking action against official witnesses who are turning hostile during trial in corruption cases. As per the strategy, steps are being taken to initiate criminal action for perjury under the IPC against such officials. Following recommendations from Odisha Vigilance, the disciplinary authorities takes departmental action against erring official for producing false evidence in favour of corrupt accused at the time of trial.
So far, as many as 45 perjury cases have been initiated by Odisha Vigilance against complainants and witnesses turning hostile during trial in last two years.
The state government has set up 21 independent Vigilance Courts throughout the State to exclusively try corruption cases. The government has recently sanctioned posts of Prosecution Liaison Officers in all Vigilance Courts for closely monitoring trial of Vigilance cases. Also, a battery of Vigilance Prosecutors exclusively conduct the prosecution under the direct supervision of a District Judge rank Legal Advisor of Odisha Vigilance and the Director Vigilance.
All acquitted Vigilance cases are being analysed threadbare and corrective actions initiated. Rewards for successful prosecution and responsibilities for willful lacunae in investigation/prosecution are being fixed, a release from Odisha Vigilance stated today.
Such strong actions have helped Odisha Vigilance in ensuring a high conviction rate in corruption cases. In 2022, the overall conviction rate in Vigilance cases was around 50% and the conviction rate in DA cases was a significantly higher 77%, ranking Odisha Vigilance among top performing States with regard to conviction in DA cases.