A deputy principal, a cashier and five clerks from across Maharashtra have been caught in five graft cases this year by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). They allegedly demanded and accepted bribes ranging as low as Rs 50 to Rs 300. The five cases involve the lowest bribe amounts demanded so far this year.
The accused, all Class-III employees, were the first interface at government offices for the victims, who are as diverse as a class 10 student and a woman paying a visit to her jailed husband.
In January, a 51-year-old clerk at the Dhule District and Sessions Court was trapped by the ACB after a litigant complained that she had demanded Rs 50 to provide a certified copy of an application.
According to the ACB, the accused, Mangala Nerkar, who had worked at various courtrooms in Dhule, refused to provide a certified copy of an application in a civil case, unless the complainant paid a bribe. “Nerkar asked a bribe corresponding with the value of the work to be done. A lot of litigants pay money just to get a certified copy quickly. But the complainant had no intention to pay a bribe and notified us. We then laid a trap on January 28 and caught Nerkar red-handed,” said S M Budhwant, Deputy Superintendent of Police, ACB (Dhule). A charge-sheet was filed on May 20 after obtaining the sanction from the Law and Judiciary Department.
In the second case, a deputy principal and clerk, working at Yashwant school in Latur, were trapped after they asked for Rs 150 to release a student’s school-leaving certificate. “The student had passed his Class X examination and required the certificate to apply for higher education. His father, who is a journalist, immediately informed us,” said N G Ankushkar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, ACB (Latur).
The ACB trapped the accused, Shahaji Bhandawale (52) and Dattatray Bhutampalle (40) on June 30. “There are 200 Class X students in the school. The accused may have demanded money from each student,” Ankushkar said. The ACB is firming up its case against the duo before writing to the state education department for sanction to prosecute them.
The accused in the third case is a clerk at Gondia Tehsildar’s office, who demanded Rs 200 to issue a new ration card. ACB officers said the accused, Shabbir Maladhari (54), claimed he had to pay off seniors in his office.
The trap was laid on January 8, a few days after the complainant was made to run from pillar to post to obtain a new ration card registered against his mother’s name. “When the complainant said he would not pay a bribe, Maladhari made him shuttle between several departments in the tehsildar’s office. Fed up, the man lodged a complaint,” said D A Thosare, Deputy Superintendent of Police, ACB (Gondia). Sanction to prosecute is awaited from the Revenue Department.
The accused in the fourth case found an opportunity, while disbursing a suspended teacher’s dues of Rs 1.10 lakh in Washim, Amravati District. The complainant, who taught at a Zilla Parishad school in Washim, was suspended for an alleged misdemeanour in 2013. After he was reinstated, he faced a tough time collecting his unpaid dues from the panchayat office.
The ACB trapped cashier Nannushah Shah and clerk Janardhan Damodar on April 16 after a marathon conversation with the complainant. “The accused initially demanded a cut of Rs 5,000 to cash in his cheque.
But after negotiations lasting five hours, they agreed to accept Rs 200. The accused told the complainant that he had to pay a bribe, as they had to pay off their seniors,” said W M Awhale, Deputy Superintendent of Police, ACB (Washim). The ACB is readying its case before seeking sanction from the Panchayati Raj Department to prosecute.
The fifth case, registered in Jalgaon on May 22, involves a guard at the city jail. The complainant claimed that she had to pay every guard on duty, every time she visited her husband in jail. According to ACB officers, the complainant’s husband had been in jail for the past four months in a murder case. The complainant, a daily-wage labourer, would visit him frequently. “On May 22, a jail guard, Gorakh Bari (30) refused to let her visit her husband unless she paid him Rs 300. Tired of paying guards every time she visited the jail, she lodged a complaint with us,” said D D Gaware, Deputy Superintendent of Police, ACB (Jalgaon).
According to Gaware, Bari said his fellow guards would split such visitation bribes amongst themselves.