Punjab sees growing trend of digital bribes
Vigilance officials say that while at times the bribe seekers end up incriminating themselves, at others, it proves to be a dead-end.
As the world adapts to digital payments, it seems the corrupt too don’t want to be left behind. The Punjab vigilance bureau is seeing a growing trend of government officials taking bribes through digital payment apps, including Google Pay, Phone Pe, and Paytm etc, something that ends up being a self-incriminating move.
Vigilance sleuths had recently caught a power corporation sub-divisional officer, identified as Mohan Lal, and a lineman for taking bribe of ₹34,000 through Google-Pay in lieu of not disconnecting the electricity connection of a Ludhiana resident. While they were caught red-handed with ₹5,000 bribe money, investigations revealed that the duo had taken ₹34,000 via the digital mode.
Punjab Vigilance Bureau’s chief director Varinder Kumar said that at least a dozen such cases have come to the fore off late. “But this only makes our job easier. It is easier to prove their guilt in a court of law when there is a clear digital trail of the money exchange,” said Kumar.
In a similar case, the vigilance, on May 23, had nabbed head constable Raghunath Singh, posted at Bhargo camp in Jalandhar city, for taking a bribe of ₹2,100 in two instalments through digital payment app, PhonePay. He was demanding bribe from an Uttarakhand resident for sending viscera of a deceased for chemical examination. The bribery complaint was posted on the CM’s anti-corruption helpline following which the sleuths got into action.
Jalandhar, with five cases, tops the state in terms of digital bribery cases in recent times.
Patwari Ranjodh Singh of Pahuwind Circle of Amritsar had also landed in the vigilance net for taking ₹4,000 bribe through Google Pay. Abhay Kumar Patwari of Tibbi Khurd, Ferozepur, was caught accepting ₹5,000 while another patwari, Amritpal, of Barnala was caught taking ₹5,000 through Google Pay.
Sukhwinder Singh, a clerk of Fazilka education officer, was also one such offender.
While some government officials walk themselves into trouble by leaving a clear digital trail, others are smarter.
An official, requesting anonymity, said, “We recently came across a case where an official was carrying a Digital QR code scanner, linked to a shop in his area, for payments. He got away scot-free as the bribe money went to the shopkeeper, who showed it as a payment for some goods he sold. Our trap fell flat.”
A vigilance spokesperson said many such complaints have come in on the CM’s anti-corruption helpline and each case is being looked into one by one.