Mumbai: For the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), any amount below Rs 3 crore may soon be small change. A plan is being drawn up to increase the amount limit of cases that are transferred from police stations to the EOW from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 3 crore.
“This move aims to reduce the burden on the EOW and improve the quality of investigation. Today, each EOW officer handles 12-15 cases. Once the proposal is sanctioned, we will announce the new limit,” said Rakesh Maria, police commissioner. The Rs 2,200-crore SpeakAsia fraud has over 24 lakh investors or panelists, but only one EOW officer is filing the supplementary chargesheet.
Maria added that if the amount is less than the prescribed limit in a case, but the modus operandi and nature of the crime is complex, it will be probed by the EOW. “We will send all cases prescribed below the amount limit to the police stations. But the zonal deputy commissioner, regional additional commissioner and the EOW additional commissioner will closely monitor the investigation,” said Maria.
With inflation, the amount involved in cases is increasing rapidly, said senior officers. Last year, 181 cases were registered with the EOW involving property worth Rs 8,142 crore, including the Rs 5,500-crore NSEL scam and Rs 425-crore QNet cheating case.
Manpower shortage in the EOW has also led to slow disposal of hundreds of cases involving nearly Rs 12,790 crore. The EOW has only 76 officers and 174 constables in its 12 units. “In each case, we have to record statements of hundreds of people, make seizures, conduct raids and send evidence for forensic analyses. Staff shortage delays probes,” said an officer.
Since its inception in 1994, the EOW has registered more than 2,000 cases.
In 2012, then police commissioner had sent a proposal to the state law and judiciary department recommending the setting up of a special court to try EOW cases. In October 2013, a reminder was also sent, but the proposal is still pending.
The Times of India, March 15, 2014