After posting pictures of traps in government offices, the Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) now wants citizens to take pictures and videos of bribe seekers and post them on the bureau’s Facebook page. The announcement was made on the Bureau’s Facebook page in Marathi on Monday, officials said. “We have appealed to citizens to post their complaints on our Facebook page. The photographs and videos they shoot will at least help us to establish that some illegal dealing is taking place. We will then verify the complaints and lay traps,” said Praveen Dixit, Director General, ACB.
He added that these images would not be presented in court. “Once a complaint is verified using such media, we will shoot our own pictures during traps laid to nab the accused and present them in court,” he said.
The Facebook page, which was launched three weeks back, has received thousands of visitors. “Our page has gained over 6,500 likes already. All our posts receive comments regularly. Users also post their suggestions,” he said.
Two short videos commissioned by the ACB have also been posted on the page. Both show average citizens entering the maze of a government office, only to be shunted from one table to the other to get their work done. When an officer finally demands a bribe, the demoralised citizen spots an ACB poster and the helpline number. The corrupt officer is caught in a trap the next day.
RTI activist caught taking bribe from MNS MLA
A Right To Information (RTI) activist was allegedly caught demanding a bribe of Rs 25 lakh from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena MLA on Tuesday night. According to Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) officials, the accused demanded money to revoke a complaint lodged by a defaulting company against the Mumbai District Central Co-operative Bank Ltd, of which Pravin Darekar is the chairman.
The bank had come under the scanner last year for issuing suspicious loans amounting to Rs 191 crore to various co-operative credit societies. Darekar, who represents Magathane in the state Assembly, was also under suspicion for sanctioning the loans. Following an audit by the state co-operatives department, an FIR was lodged at the Ghatkopar police station in December last year against three such societies.
However, the societies approached the courts for relief and registered cases against the bank following the court’s directions. According to the ACB, Deshmukh met Darekar in August, claiming to represent Snehal Co-operative Credit Society.
“Deshmukh said he would speak with the society officials and ask them to withdraw the police complaints if Darekar agreed to pay them Rs 25 lakh. On Tuesday, Darekar paid Deshmukh Rs 1.5 lakh as a first installment. But later on Tuesday, Deshmukh called Darekar again to be paid Rs 1.5 lakh more,” said an ACB officer.
Darekar, however, approached the ACB and a trap was laid at Hotel Regency in Andheri at 10.15 pm on Tuesday, where the duo had agreed to meet. The officer said Deshmukh was caught accepting Rs 1.5 lakh. “Deshmukh is an RTI activist. We are investigating what his interest was in representing the credit society. We have been given his custody for two days,” said the officer.