KERALA

Special Branch offices raided

Staff Reporter

Corruption in passport verification

Thiruvananthapuram: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) on Saturday detected large-scale bribery in the issuance of police approval reports for passport applicants.

The corruption came to light when the VACB conducted surprise inspections at seven district-level police Special Branch bureaus in the State. The bureaus are responsible for cross-checking the personal information furnished by passport applicants and also verifying whether they are involved in any criminal cases. These offices work under the supervision of the District Superintendent of Police concerned.

The VACB found that certain corrupt policemen at these bureaus had been accepting considerable sums of money as bribe from passport applicants for giving them favourable police verification reports. The VACB seized unaccounted money amounting to Rs.88,450 from the Pathanamthitta Special Branch office, Rs.40,000 from Palakkad, Rs.11,000 from Kannur, Rs.9,300 from Alappuzha and Rs.2,000 from Thrissur. No extra money was found at the Kasaragod and Kottayam Special Branch offices.

The VACB found that the police clearance reports had been either ‘delayed or deliberately denied’ in the case of several genuine applicants who refused to pay bribe. A set of middlemen, sometimes posing as travel agents, collected the bribe and gave it to the policemen concerned on the eve of the monthly Special Branch conference.

The bribe amount depended on the paying capacity of the passport applicant or how ‘frantically’ he or she needed the travel document. The corrupt officials often shared the bribe at the conference venue itself. The VACB found several inconsistencies in the maintenance of Special Branch records relating to issuance of police clearance reports.

The Director-General of Police, Vigilance, Upendra Verma, told The Hindu that departmental action would be recommended against errant officials. Several complaints from the public had prompted the VACB to conduct the checks.

Money seized

Alappuzha Staff Reporter writes:

Vigilance officials who raided the Special Branch police office here on Saturday said an unaccounted sum of Rs. 9,300 was seized from an assistant sub-inspector. A report will shortly be submitted to top Vigilance officials, sources said.

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