HUDA official stung while demanding bribe

Sep 15, 2011, 14:36 IST | Shashank Shekhar and Amit Singh

The victim, who was running from pillar to post to get a completion certificate for his Gurgaon home, showed the video to higher-ups at the housing authority who have promised action

The victim, who was running from pillar to post to get a completion certificate for his Gurgaon home, showed the video to higher-ups at the housing authority who have promised action

Video: Official caught taking bribe

His dream home was ready and 56-year-old Jagjit Walia couldn't wait to move in. There was only the small matter of acquiring a completion certificate from the authorities. But after running from pillar to post for some time, Walia realised it might take a while for him to cross the threshold, unless he greased the palms of some officials.

Through the lens: (Top) A grab of the errant HUDA employee Mahinder
Singh from the video. (Above) Jagjit Walia, who conducted the sting
operation. Pics/Mid Day

Undeterred, Walia, a government employee, clandestinely made a video of one of the babus demanding Rs 30,000 from him in return of the completion certificate for his house in sector 47, Gurgaon. Later he showed the video to the senior officials of Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) who in return promised to take action against the errant employee as well as process the completion certificate at the earliest.

The house owned by Jagjit Walia and the HUDA office. Pics/Mid Day

On paper
"I had applied for the certificate on July 13 and HUDA gave me a target date of August 3. I waited till the given date. In between, I had only interacted once with the authority and they had assured me of processing the certificate well within time. However, when I didn't get the documents a week after the stipulated period, I got in touch with the estate officer. He excused himself saying that he had joined only a few days ago and within a week he would clear all the files from his table," Walia said.

Things didn't change even after that. Walia kept calling the officials who in turn kept issuing new dates. All this took place over the next 20 days. Finally on August 31 Walia got a call from a HUDA employee named Mahinder Singh, a junior engineer (JE). "I was very sure that he had called me to provide my certificate. But doubts crept into my mind when he asked me to meet him at a sweet shop in sector 29, Gurgaon. I went over the very next day, with a hidden camera."

'Pay up'
An unpleasant surprise awaited Walia. "I was stunned to discover that instead of apologising for the delay and giving me the certificate, the JE was asking for Rs 30,000 as bribe, which he said, had to be shared among 3-4 babus. Then only would I have got the certificate."

In the video, the JE says that the file is in process but needs to be cleared from higher authorities too. For the same the house owner needed to pay a 'fee'. When Walia enquired about the amount, the babu mentioned Rs 30,000 and ruled out any bargaining. "There are three to four more who have their own cuts. Once you pay the fee, I guarantee you that we'll hand over the certificate. If you get it done through an architect, he would also have his cut and the amount would go up. The sum is not too much and can be easily paid. I don't need the money. I have already passed the file. It's only for the babus who are above me," said Mahinder Singh.

If we go by a board put up at an estate office in Gurgaon, HUDA promises, among other things, that the stipulated time for issuing a completion certificate is 12 working days. It also says HUDA expects all those who avail its various services not to approach touts or middlemen among other obligations.

After capturing the video, Walia went to the estate officer and showed the footage of the JE asking for the bribe. He also filed an RTI query with the department seeking details of his file. The estate officer promised deliverance of the completion certificate in 2-3 more days. "Last Thursday I got a call from the same JE, who that the file had been cleared and it's with the administrator. He again called up on Monday informing me that the administrator had also cleared the file and I could come over at any time to collect the certificate," said Walia, who is still not sure if he will get the certificate.

Making civic sense
From today, Delhiites will be entitled to time-bound service delivery in 28 categories under the jurisdiction of Delhi Government, MCD, NDMC and Delhi Police. Any delay will invoke a penalty of Rs 10 per day up to Rs 200. And this amount will be deducted from the salary of erring officers and paid to the complainant. To begin with, Rs 4,000 will be set aside with each department covered under the Right of Citizen to Time Bound Delivery of Services Act, 2011. This fund will be used to pay penalty to complainants. Habitual offenders will face administrative action. More services will be brought under the purview of the Act soon. If a public servant fails to deliver within the stipulated time frame laid out under the Service Level Agreement then he would be liable to pay Rs 10 per day up to a maximum of Rs 200 per application to a citizen as compensation after the stipulated timeframe for service delivery lapses. Nearly 28 services by various departments are being covered under Service Level Agreements (SLAs) currently. These include services such as new electricity connections by discoms, issuance of ration cards, registration of births and deaths, issuance of driving license, vehicle fitness, issuance of seven types of certificates by the revenue department (income certificates, SC and OBC certificates), the registration of an eating house and registration under Delhi Value Added Tax (DVAT) and Central Sales Tax Act.

The other side
Speaking to MiD DAY, Gurgaon's HUDA administrator Nitin Kumar Yadav said, "There are basically two aspects in this. One is the delay and the other is the issue of bribery. As far as the delay is concerned, we do monitor every action of all our employees and maintain a proper written record. Action is taken against them as and when it comes to our notice. However when it comes to the second part, we need a proper written complaint from the person who is facing this problem. Without that we might not be able to act against any of our employees."
Earlier Walia also exposed back door admission racket in private and medical colleges by paying heavy amount but feels sorry to see the a nation where most of us are corrupt.

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