Sunday, July 29, 2007
India: Bribery & Corrupt Police
Man seeks help in filing a corruption complaint through Right to Information Act
‘Trap corrupt pollution control board officials’
Thursday, July 26, 2007 13:27 IST
Minister admits officials frequently accept bribes from polluting firms
Minister for Environment, Ganesh Naik, on Wednesday admitted that some officials of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board were accepting bribes from industries resorting to air and water pollution. His admission came while replying to supplementary queries, raised on an original starred question by Arjun Khotkar (Shiv Sena) and others during the question hour. The minister urged members to trap such officials. Gulabrao Gawande (Sena) disclosed that MPCB officials had sought money from him for his petrol pump in Jalgaon district.
RS Sharma lambasts ‘corrupt’ SIT
Wednesday, July 04, 2007 09:07 IST
Days after he was discharged by the Special Court in Pune for lack of evidence, former Mumbai police chief RS Sharma is fuming at the injustice meted out to him in the fake stamp paper scam case.
Sharma on Tuesday accused the Special Investigating Team (SIT) under SS Puri of corrupt motives for failing to arrest those who knowingly purchased fake stamp papers.
“Considering you have a case where fake stamp paper worth crores of rupees have been sold, the aim should be to find the person guilty in abating the crime. The SIT incredulously believes all the receivers (purchasers) are innocent. Rather, they have been cheated by Telgi or his associates. What kind of investigation was this? I strongly believe it was nothing but a corrupt motive of the SIT in not arresting any receiver,’’ said Sharma. Puri refused to comment on the issue and said that the case was taken over by the CBI.
The entire case against Sharma primarily rested on the alleged inaction against two policemen - Assistant Police Inspector Dilip Kamat and Assistant Commissioner of Police MC Mulani. Sharma pointed out, “It was on the very day that the order of suspension was passed against them that stamps worth lakhs of rupees were seized from a godown at Bhiwandi. If I had any ulterior motive, would I have allowed this? Don’t forget it was during my tenure as the Commissioner of Police, Pune that we recovered fake stamp papers worth Rs2,200 crore.’’
The case came to light after Sharma was told that 12 people arrested for carrying fake stamps and stamp papers has been released.
Sharma’s arrest had been carried out by the SIT a day after he retired on November 30, 2003.
“It was nothing but a calculated move. They knew I would have filed a case against them for making such allegations. There was not a single statement by a witness against me till the time I was arrested. In fact, it was on the basis of information I had provided that the scam was unearthed,” he said
Environment Minister Judeo was caught on tape allegedly taking a bribe
Sunday, Nov. 23, 2003
By Alex Perry | New Delhi
Corruption scandals in India carry the same capacity to shock as revelations of a Mafia presence in Sicily. So when a videotape surfaced last week allegedly showing a government minister holding a fistful of cash to his forehead, uttering "money isn't God, but by God, it's no less than God" and promising his benefactor mining concessions, it created a stir in the press�but nowhere else. Environment and Forests Minister Dilip Singh Judeo first issued an outright denial, then resigned but maintained his innocence, then admitted accepting money but compared himself to Mohandas Gandhi, saying he needed the funds for a struggle to save India from a shadowy international Christian conspiracy.
Displaying equal nonchalance were Judeo's masters in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who suggested the tape was doctored and urged police to discover who entrapped the minister into taking a bribe. (The bribe payer, who claimed to represent an unnamed foreign mining company, has yet to be identified.) Instead of banishing Judeo, the BJP bigwigs said he would still lead the party's campaign for Dec. 1 polls in the state of Chhattisgarh in central India. Defending Judeo, BJP Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani took defiance to daring new levels, declaring he once campaigned while facing charges of receiving $140,000 from the hawala system, an informal and illegal paperless banking network, and it hadn't done him any harm. He won the elections. "We stand on a high moral pedestal," proclaimed Advani.
Advani's political rhetoric might be suspect, but his calculation to stand by Judeo is probably sound. Keeping Judeo means preserving his sizable caste-determined Chhattisgarh voter bloc. Besides, observers say voters simply don't care about another ministerial scandal when they already view all politicians as thieves. Citizens' daily routines involve such a catalog of bribes that official corruption has ceased to be controversial. "Corruption is part and parcel of Indian politics and Indian life," says V.B. Singh, an analyst for the New Delhi-based Center for Study of Developing Societies. "People expect politicians to steal. They don't really mind it unless it affects national security." Even members of the opposition Congress Party say that, in the same situation, they would have done the same. "The BJP has done the best it could under the circumstances," says Congress spokesman Jaipal Reddy. "They didn't want to lose their guy and their reckoning is probably right. This is the kind of thing you can get away with in Indian politics."
Getting away with it, or what sociologist Ashish Nandy calls "following the law of the jungle," is now the dominant mantra of India's social and economic life. Economists estimate that the true size of India's GDP would be double the official $481 billion if the country's vast black economy were also taken into account. And while the nation fares slightly better than adjacent Pakistan and Bangladesh in terms of corruption, this is hardly an upstanding neighborhood. Each year, Transparency International (TI), an anticorruption watchdog, evaluates the world's countries according to how graft-free their societies are. This year India ranked 83rd, Pakistan 102nd, and Bangladesh, at 133rd, was dead last. With the world's second largest population and Asia's third largest economy, the size of Indian officialdom's graft is staggering. According to a TI 2002 report, police, doctors, teachers, judges, taxmen, land-registry employees, railway workers and utilities regulators make off with petty bribes amounting to $6.2 billion a year, or 1.3% of the country's GDP. In Bangalore, for example, TI documented how half of all expectant mothers must pay on average bribes of $22 for a doctor to attend the birth, while 70% of new mothers give hospital staff $4-$6 just to immediately see the gender of their newborns. (Staff play on fears that they might swap babies.)
The scandals are only more spectacular higher up the ladder of public life. In India's central government, Judeo is the latest in a long line of ministers of every political hue to stand accused. The allegations against him pale in comparison with the disclosures of 2001, when journalists from Tehelka.com, an Internet news service, posed as arms dealers and recorded themselves paying bribes to the then BJP president, Bangaru Laxman, and Jaya Jaitley, friend of Defense Minister George Fernandes. Fernandes resigned but returned to office months later.
In the states, too, few chief ministers are untarnished by scandal. Perhaps most notorious today is Mayawati, who resigned in August as chief minister of India's largest state, Uttar Pradesh, to fight charges that her freewheeling administration threatened to undermine the very foundations of the country's national symbol, the Taj Mahal. According to charges drawn up by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Mayawati and others in the state government flouted rules on the environment and competitive tendering in their plans for a $60 million tourist mall, positioned uncomfortably close behind the marble mausoleum. The construction required the Yamuna River to be diverted on a course that seemed set to undercut the ground on which the Taj Mahal rests. Mayawati denied any wrongdoing, saying there was a political conspiracy against her.
The police, the supposed law enforcers, are also tainted. What could turn out to be India's biggest-ever corruption case emerged this month when Bombay's top policeman, Commissioner R.S. Sharma, went on leave after he was accused by a court-appointed investigator of mishandling the case of Abdul Karim Telgi. A small-time businessman, Telgi is suspected of printing and selling counterfeit government documents, called stamp papers, that can be used as legal tender in India. Telgi's stamp-paper revenue�estimates range from $750 million to $7 billion�was a loss to the National Treasury; it allegedly ended up in his 68 bank accounts and 16 properties. A court in Bombay ordered a special investigation into the case, which found evidence that no fewer than 37 of Telgi's 50 co-accused were policemen.
The average Indian voter may have learned to live with corruption. But many Indian businessmen, faced with extortion by bureaucrats and competitors using bribery to achieve unfair advantage, have not. Former CBI director turned antigraft campaigner Joginder Singh says his research shows that the typical Indian entrepreneur faces 65 different inspections from various officials before he can open shop. "And these officials are not there to help," says Singh, "but to extort." As a result, many enterprises shut down in their first few weeks or fail to get beyond the drawing board.
The United Nations Development Programme estimates that state corruption costs Indian business $7 billion a year, cutting GDP growth (on average 6.1% a year over the past decade) by one-quarter.
There are some reasons to hope for progress. With politicians "scrabbling for the low ground," says Tehelka.com founder Tarun Tejpal, there are plenty of opportunities for India's free and increasingly enterprising media to "cover itself in glory" with expos�s. The judiciary, too, has begun to play a much more active role. The Supreme Court last week ordered the transfer of a long-stalled $15.5 million graft case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalitha across the state border to Bangalore, saying there was a "strong indication that the process of justice is being subverted."
To date, however, few politicians, bureaucrats or policemen exposed by the media or courts have been called to account. Corruption trials sometimes take 10-20 years to complete; the conviction rate for graft is just 6%. "There has to be some retribution," says Tehelka.com's Tejpal. "Otherwise we have no system." To some, the system is already down. "We've come to accept that for the time being, there's no way out," says anticorruption campaigner Singh. "We're into the abyss and we're only going to sink further."
With reporting by Aravind Adiga and Sankarshan Thakur/New Delhi and Meenakshi Ganguly/Bombay
Posted by lmurx at 9:58 AM