In a bid to combat corruption within the revenue and vigilance departments, the government has introduced a new rule that will see vigilance officers who engage in corrupt practices promptly ousted from service. The decision to terminate their employment will be made following a thorough department-level investigation, and even if the officer exercises their right to appeal, the department will proceed with termination if criminal charges are proven.
The recommendation for this stringent measure came from Vigilance Chief Manoj Abraham, who proposed the idea to the government after previous efforts to curb corruption yielded limited success. Abraham highlighted the frustration caused by the trial runs of corrupt officers being extended indefinitely without a final judgment, allowing them to return to their positions after a year’s suspension and resume their dishonest activities.
In parallel to the implementation of the termination policy, the vigilance department has intensified its operations to ensnare corrupt officials. A comprehensive strategy has been devised, involving meticulous planning and scientific evidence collection. Prior to conducting trap operations, the serial numbers of the currency notes used as bait are submitted to the magistrate. Additionally, phone calls are recorded, and the victim’s complaint is formally submitted. A designated gazetted officer appointed by the district collector oversees the operation, ensuring transparency and accountability. The scene of bribe-taking is covertly recorded using a phone, and the hands that come into contact with the bribe are subsequently tested using phenolphthalein and sodium bicarbonate to detect the presence of a color-changing chemical reaction, providing scientific proof of the illicit exchange.
Despite the availability of solid evidence, the trial process for corrupt officers has suffered extensive delays, often stretching over a decade. As a consequence, some individuals implicated in corrupt practices may have passed away, while others may have retired. Recognizing the need for swifter action, the department has decided to expedite the termination of tainted officers, aiming to complete the process within three months.
The urgency of addressing corruption within the revenue and vigilance departments is underscored by the statistics from the past two years. In the previous year, a staggering 45 officers were apprehended for accepting bribes, while this year’s count stands at 23. The majority of these incidents occur within the revenue department, highlighting the necessity for reform and stricter measures to eradicate corruption.
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