"Speed money", the very concept for bribe seems to have picked up very well by the law-enforcers and revenue officials of this state over the years.
According to the statistics available with the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), quite consistent to its image, the police department as against the others has topped this year's chart of registration of maximum corruption cases.
While total 88 cases have been registered against the police officials from different ranks during the period of January to November 2008, numbers of arrests from police department during the same period have been 126.
The Revenue department, which normally tops the "honours" for securing first position on ACB's yearly chart, has slipped to number two in 2008 also. The total number of cases registered against revenue officials was 82 while the arrests were 107.
"While the revenue and police department staying ahead of others in the ACB chart has more to do with these department's excessive public interaction, the other factor is common public who approaches these departments mostly found themselves cornered. Under the circumstances they are most of the times unwilling payers while in other departments, people bribe to get their work done and therefore they are willing and would likely want their sin not getting exposed", said Director General (ACB), S Chakravarty.
According to Chakravarty, common people who are dealing with police department are either complainants or accused. "In the cases complainants bride the officer, it is treated as speech money while in the case of culprits, it is a protection money".
Constituted in 1957 under the home ministry, government of Maharashtra, the ACB's main task is to work towards eradicating the evil of bribery and corruption from the society. According to the information available on the ACB website, "Corruption in India emerged as a malaise affecting public services during second world war and continued to spread its tentacles despite the best efforts of the administration". But in the modern age corruption has been one of the most rampant activity and is being known with sugar-coated name: "speed money".
In 2008, ACB nabbed total 502 persons from various government departments and lodged some 346 cases. Every year revenue and police departments only take first two positions in the ACB's chart since both departments. The rate of complaints coming to ACB pertaining to demand of bribe against police and revenue department are higher as against other departments", said Sanjay Parande, additional deputy commissioner (head quarter), ACB.
ACB's march towards making the society corruption-free however has been hit hard by the staff crunch. According Chakravarty, the ACB has been reeling with the problem of staff shortage. We are now trying to overcome with the staff shortage problem", said Chakravarty.
Also significant is the change in procedure of ACB, which earlier used to hold complianant's money used in trap for more than six months. "In the cases which get disposed off soon and the grant is available with the department, the ACB return the money immediately. Otherwise too, the period of six months has been reduced to one month for returning the money".