Updated: July 4, 2021 7:37:54 am
In May last week, officers of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Buldhana “busted” a party in a farm. While this was not a rave party or one where narcotics were seized, it was an unusual trap laid by the ACB after it received a complaint of corruption against two government officials, who had demanded that a party be thrown for them.
The complainant had alleged that to get documents for a plot of land he had recently purchased, circle officer Vilas Khedekar and talathi Baburao More had demanded Rs 10,000 as bribe. In a hurry, the complainant paid the amount. But instead of handing over the documents, Khedekar and More came up with an unusual demand – a party should be thrown for them, where whiskey, mutton and fish would be served.
Frustrated, the complainant approached the ACB. A discussion within the ACB followed on whether this fell under the ambit of Prevention of Corruption Act. The unanimous opinion was that it was indeed illegal gratification.
ACB SP (Amravati) Vishal Gaikwad said, “Generally, when it comes to money, we put anthracene powder on currency notes that are given as bribe. When the accused accepts it, the powder is recovered from his hand in the presence of witnesses. In this particular case, however, we would have to rely on recording and voice samples of the accused alone.”
The ACB asked the complainant to throw the circle officer and talathi a party on May 24. The accused were served two bottles of Imperial Blue whiskey, 2 kg of mutton dishes and 3 kg of fish items at the party held at the farm of a local resident.
During the party, ACB officers reached the spot and arrested Khedekar and More. The whiskey bottles, mutton dishes and fish items were seized as evidence. “However, since mutton and fish are perishable, we had to destroy them,” an officer said.
While the two were behind bars for three days before they were released on bail, the ACB is now preparing evidence to file a chargesheet against them. An officer said that last week, they have sent voice samples and other forms of digital evidence to the state Forensic Science Laboratory for testing to confirm the voice samples of the accused.
A senior ACB officer said that in the last few years, several cases have been reported where government officials did not merely seek monetary allurements. “Recently, a government employee asked a complainant to provide sarees for his wife and daughter-in-law apart from money.”
In some cases, government employees also sought articles that they could use in offices — like printers and table fans.
A law officer from ACB said that the Prevention of Corruption Acts defines corruption as illegal gratification sought by a government employee to do his job. “The Act does not say that the gratification should be monetary. Hence, any other form of gratification, like whiskey, fish and mutton in this case, also comes under its ambit,” the officer added.
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