Four in 10 Indians paid a bribe to police, municipal and state government officials over the last year, a ‘state of corruption’ survey by a citizen engagement platform has found.
Of the 43% respondents who reported paying a bribe to the survey by LocalCircles, 23% said they paid bribes on multiple occasions during the 12-month period while 20% paid money once or twice.
About 31% of the bribes went to police, 32% to municipal officials, 6% to power department officials and 31% to other departments for services such as property and vehicle registration, vehicle and taxation.
Another 22% said they decided against paying bribe, while the remaining, about 35% of the 11,300 respondents, said there was no need for them to pay bribe.
“Most people or organisations have to deal on a daily basis with state and local administration, this is where corruption is the heaviest as our poll also shows,” said K Yatish Rajawat, chief strategy officer of LocalCircles.
The findings are in line with previous studies.
In 2013, the Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy estimated that every second Indian who dealt with a government department paid a bribe. Last year, the Centre for Media Studies estimated that every third household in Delhi had paid up to avail public services during 2014.
Clearly, stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma, who tweeted in August about having to pay a Rs 5 lakh bribe despite paying Rs 15 crore in taxes, wasn’t the only one.
I am paying 15 cr income tax from last 5 year n still i have to pay 5 lacs bribe to BMC office for making my office @narendramodi— KAPIL (@KapilSharmaK9) September 9, 2016
Sharma later got into trouble, as it transpired that he had violated a few laws while building his office. He was booked under environmental law and if convicted, could have to spend up to three years in jail.
Jail for bribe-givers
Other bribe-givers too could land in a mess soon. A jail sentence will be the norm once Parliament clears a change to the anti-corruption law pending from last year.
Under this proposal – approved by a parliamentary panel in August – people who pay bribes can be imprisoned for three to seven years. It will not matter if the person was coerced to pay or colluded with the officials.
Over two-third of the respondents felt technology, social media and participative governance approaches could reduce corruption in varying degrees over a five-year period. The remaining 32% believed these would either not have any effect or a very limited one.