Andhra Pradesh

ACB ‘traps’ 4 revenue officers in 3 months

ACB DSP M. Nagabhushanam in conversation with The Hindu on Saturday.

ACB DSP M. Nagabhushanam in conversation with The Hindu on Saturday.  

While political corruption has come down, administrative corruption remains the same, says DSP

The Anti-Corruption Bureau has arrested two revenue officials for demanding bribes and has filed cases of disproportionate assets (DA case) against another two in the district in the last three months.

A deputy tahsildar from Panyam and a revenue inspector from Orvakal were charged in a DA case. A tahsildar from Sanjamala and one from Gudur were trapped by the ACB sleuths for demanding bribes.

“While political corruption has come down, administrative corruption remains the same,” said Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) M. Nagabhushanam.

Of the total eight traps and DA cases dealt by Mr. Nagabhushanam in the past three months, half of the cases involve the revenue department, showing it in a poor light.

Talking about the amount recovered from the revenue officers, the DSP said that the document value of the property owned by them is over ₹10 crore. “However, the market value of the assets is expected to be significantly higher than that,” he said.

The total amount seized by the ACB in their eight missions over three months is estimated to be over ₹20 crore in document value.

Explaining why corruption is rampant in the revenue department, the DSP said that the tahsildars have been fudging the land records to give scope to litigation. “They will then clear the litigation after taking a bribe from the victim,” Mr. Nagabhushanam said.

“After the TDP government made land records exclusively online, it has become easy for corrupt officers to fudge the data,” Mr. Nagabhushanam said. However, he added that there were also advantages to making the system fully online.

Earlier, the data was entered on paper, and these records were easily accessible to numerous people making the data vulnerable to tampering. The online process has removed the scope of tampering but has given rise to litigation, he said.

The DSP gave an example of litigation. “If one owns 10 acres of land, it would be registered in a few survey numbers as a few pieces of land. The officer instead of entering the correct dimensions of a piece of land, would enter incorrect dimensions which are lower than the actual piece. If one piece of land has 2.5 acres in it, the officer would enter 2.2 acres of land. This would create litigation which the revenue official will then exploit,” the DSP said.

According to the DSP, the two ways to get these litigations cleared is by either bribing the official or by going to court.

While many choose to pay a bribe, some choose to go to court to fight the litigation. And far too few people raise a complaint with the required authorities to initiate proper action, the DSP said.

‘Sophisticated graft’

Responding to a query, Mr. Nagabhushanam agreed that officers have become cleverer in the recent past. “Nowadays. the officers are not taking bribes directly. They are either involving their underlings or some other persons to take the money,” he said.

However, he also said that there is a provision in the law which allows any public or private entity to be charged with corruption charges. “If the person involved is innocent, he can also turn an approver against the accused,” the DSP said.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 12:01:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/acb-traps-4-revenue-officers-in-3-months/article29933739.ece

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