Odisha Cracks Down on Witness Hostility in Corruption Cases

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Government has taken a strong stand against corruption by dismissing an Assistant Engineer for providing false testimony in a Vigilance case to aid a corrupt official. The action was initiated based on the recommendations of Odisha Vigilance, which is aggressively tackling witness hostility leading to the acquittal of accused officials in graft cases.

Upendra Bhanja Naik, an Assistant Engineer in the Housing & Urban Development Department, was removed from his position after he deviated from his original statements and gave false evidence in favour of the accused during the trial. This resulted in the accused being acquitted in the case.

Odisha Vigilance is committed to combating corruption and has begun taking actions against official witnesses who turn hostile during corruption trials. The strategy involves initiating criminal action for perjury under the IPC against such officials. So far, Odisha Vigilance has initiated 45 perjury cases against witnesses who have turned hostile in the past two years.

To expedite the trial process, the state government has established 21 independent Vigilance Courts across the State to exclusively handle corruption cases. The government has also appointed Prosecution Liaison Officers in all Vigilance Courts to closely monitor the trial proceedings. The prosecution of these cases is conducted by a team of Vigilance Prosecutors under the direct supervision of a District Judge rank Legal Advisor and the Director of Vigilance.

Thanks to these strong measures, Odisha Vigilance has achieved a high conviction rate in corruption cases. In 2022, the overall conviction rate was approximately 50%, with a significantly higher 77% conviction rate in DA (Disproportionate Assets) cases, placing Odisha Vigilance among the top-performing states in terms of DA case convictions.

The government is also analyzing acquitted Vigilance cases thoroughly and taking corrective actions as necessary. Rewards for successful prosecution and accountability for any lapses in investigation or prosecution are being established to maintain the integrity of the process

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