Months after Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani red-flagged the rampant corruption in revenue and police departments, data tabled in the state assembly shows that during the past five years, 1,127 government officials and employees were arrested for taking bribes. However, the percentage of chargesheets that have been filed has fallen during the period between the calendar year 2014 and September 2018.
Ahmedabad accounts for over 14 per cent of the arrests, as 161 government servants were caught taking bribes, data tabled in reply to an unstarred question by Congress MLA from Siddhpur, Chandanji Thakor, showed. The highest number of arrests in a single year was also reported from Ahmedabad —49 in 2015.
The second highest number of government officials arrested is in Vadodara, 88, and the third highest was in Surat, 81. Surprisingly, the predominantly rural district of Banaskantha saw 58 officials being caught. The numbers registered in Banaskantha are similar to Rajkot, the hometown of Chief Minister Rupani, where an equal number of offenders were arrested. In the state capital Gandhinagar, 49 officials were caught. Keshav Kumar, special director of the Anti Corruption Bureau, told The Indian Express, “I see it as us being more proactive in taking cognisance of offences.” The data comes on the back of Rupani’s comments on corruption in Gujarat, wherein he pointed out from a public podium in December 2018 that corruption was most rampant in the revenue department, followed by the police department.
The data however showed that while less than 10 per cent of the arrested officials have been dismissed, the percentage of those chargesheeted have fallen from 91 percent in 2014 to just 33 percent in 2017. When 241 of 265 caught in 2014 were charge-sheeted, in 2017 only 46 of 141 caught were chargesheeted. When questioned about this, Additional Chief Secretary Pankaj Kumar, who handles the home department, said, “I will not be able to discuss it without looking at the figures.” Keshav Kumar too declined to comment.
The government data shows that the total bribe involved in the 934 cases where these 1,127 arrests were made in the five-year-period was just Rs 3.23 crore. The lowest bribe amount was Rs 1,300 involving cases in Chotta Udepur district were two government officials were caught. The same year, another official was caught in Mahisagar district for a bribe as low as Rs 2,000.