Mumbaikars prefer to pay bribes than complain to cops: ACB boss

Mumbai ranks eighth in the list of the most corrupt cities in Maharashtra but that is not really good news, says Praveen Dixit the chief of the Anti-Corruption Bureau; he blames higher incomes and busy lives for people’s unwillingness to complain about government officials accepting bribes

“Money, get away. Get a good job with more pay and you’re OK,” sang David Gilmour of the legendary band Pink Floyd. And this seems to be the mantra of the city when it comes to dealing with corruption and bribery. 

Also read: State sits on proposals to prosecute 381 corrupt officials

People don’t have time to report corruption cases in the city. They have to catch a train, go to work and, so, end up paying rather than reporting. Secondly, people here get handsome salaries compared to any other city. That’s why we end up with fewer cases in a city like Mumbai - Praveen Dixit, director general of police, Maharashtra ACB
People don’t have time to report corruption cases in the city. They have to catch a train, go to work and, so, end up paying rather than reporting. Secondly, people here get handsome salaries compared to any other city. That’s why we end up with fewer cases in a city like Mumbai - Praveen Dixit, director general of police, Maharashtra ACB

Mumbai has ranked eighth in an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) list of cities where government officials are brought to book for taking bribes. According to the ACB, Mumbai’s citizens prefer paying up and getting the work done rather than complain to the police about bribery demands.

According to ACB data, Pune stood first with 336 government officials being arrested for accepting bribes. Mumbai, with a paltry 115, was eighth, behind cities like Nasik (301), Aurangabad (252), Nagpur (243), Thane (232), Amravati (198), and Nanded (198). These are arrests that have been recorded since January 2014 till date.

Also read: Caught! ACB spreads net, nabs 585 babus asking bribes

State ACB chief Praveen Dixit gave an assurance that the bureau would act on people’s complaints against public servants. File pic
State ACB chief Praveen Dixit gave an assurance that the bureau would act on people’s complaints against public servants. File pic

Seniors officers who have been analysing the reason for these numbers from the financial capital attributed them to the money muscle — since people earn a lot more in Mumbai as compared to other cities, they would rather pay bribes to get work done in government departments, than approach the ACB to report a bribe demand.

Sources also pointed to Mumbai’s traditional apathy; voter turnouts are abysmal in the city, as people tend to believe money can do anything for them, no matter who is in power. “People don’t have time to report corruption cases in the city. They have to catch a train go to work and, so, end up paying rather than reporting.

Secondly, people here get handsome salaries compared to any other city. That’s why we end up with fewer cases in a city like Mumbai,” said Praveen Dixit, director general of police, Maharashtra ACB. “People in Mumbai have a hard life; they are very busy with their work.

They are of the opinion that complaining is very time-consuming, as they will be summoned to police stations and courts. They are also afraid that, on registering a complaint, their work will get stuck in the government department. This is stopping them from approaching the police,” said sociologist Nandini Sardesai.

Most corrupt
The ACB also released data on the arrests for bribery made this year till June. The report stated that the ACB recorded 612 cases of corruption, 46 more than last year.

The Revenue department, headed by BJP’s Eknath Khadse, topped the list with 191 people being arrested, followed by the Home department, from which 177 people, including cops, were arrested by the ACB for taking bribes; the Home department is under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The Rural Development department, which has Pankaja Munde at its helm, had 111 employees being nabbed for taking bribes. Cops (155) led the hall of shame of bribe takers, followed by talatis (82) and engineers (30). Talatis are government officials/clerks in villages who maintain land and crop records, and also collect tax revenue.

ACB statistics showed that most complainants (658) who approached them were 26-35 years old, followed by 528 people from the 35-45 years age bracket, and 377 from the 46-60 years age group. In all the cases, the ACB set traps and the public servants who had demanded money were arrested with the help of the complainants.

Also read: Report corrupt BMC officials, says Anti Corruption Bureau

Seven per cent of those arrested for taking bribes were women 201 out of the total 2,507 arrests since the beginning of 2014. This year has seen 50 women being arrested for the offence. In terms of level of officers, around 40 Class I officers (executive officers) and 83 Class II employees were held.

Class III employees comprised the major portion — 497 arrests, followed by Class IV (13) and others (31). Around 107 middlemen have been arrested for taking bribes on behalf of government employees.

'Report corruption'
State ACB chief Praveen Dixit said the bureau is making it easier people to report corruption cases. “People in Mumbai have time constraints, but to tackle this problem we have come up with various options like a Facebook page, toll-free number, along with our website, where people can register their complaints.

We recently launched a mobile app, which can also be used to lodge complaints. With all this, we are hopeful that the percentage of arrests in the city will rise,” said Dixit. Dixit also gave an assurance that the bureau will act on complaints and encouraged people to come to them.

“If somebody approaches us, be it through any mode, I can assure you that your identity will be kept completely secret and we will also ensure that after the public servant is arrested, the complainant’s work is not stuck,” he said.

You can now lodge complaints against a public servant through various methods:

Toll-free number: 1064

ACB website: www.acbmaharashtra. gov.in. You can also find phone numbers listed on the website
ACB mobile app: You can download the app at www.acbmaharashtra.net

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