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Unethical Bribery on the Rise in Gujarat: ‘Empathetically Corrupt’

Unethical Bribery Practices On The Rise In Gujarat 'empathetically Corrupt' Officials

In a concerning trend, corrupt government officials in Gujarat are now offering citizens the option to pay bribes in installments, resembling bank loan structures. This practice, termed ’empathetically corrupt,’ aims to alleviate financial burdens on individuals coerced into offering bribes, as reported by TOI.

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Consider the following instances:

  1. March Bribery Scam: A staggering bribe of Rs 21 lakh was demanded from an individual involved in an SGST bogus billing scam. To ease the financial strain, the amount was divided into nine EMIs of Rs 2 lakh each, with an initial payment of Rs 1 lakh.
  2. April Bribery Case: A deputy sarpanch and taluka panchayat member in Surat demanded an Rs 85,000 bribe for a farming-related favor. Sensing financial constraints, the accused proposed an EMI plan – an upfront payment of Rs 35,000, followed by three equal installments for the balance.
  3. Recent Police Extortion: Two policemen absconded with a Rs 4 lakh bribe extorted from a Sabarkantha resident. This sum constituted only the initial installment of the total Rs 10 lakh demanded.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has reported a surge in such incidents, with ten cases already reported this year. Corrupt officials exploit individuals facing legal scrutiny or seeking government assistance, demanding exorbitant bribes. Victims, financially strained and vulnerable, find paying the entire bribe upfront untenable. Consequently, officials devise installment schemes to ensure compliance.

Shamsher Singh, Director of ACB, Gujarat, and DGP (law and order), noted that the bureau investigates cases only when victims report after making initial payments. In one case, a CID inspector demanded a Rs 50,000 bribe for the release of seized articles, structured into five installments of Rs 10,000 each. Similarly, a Class II officer with the Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board facilitated a contractor’s pending invoices for Rs 1.20 lakh through four payments of Rs 30,000.

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