Gujarat Officials Introduce ‘Bribe EMI’ System Amid Economic Struggles

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Gujarat Officials Introduce 'Bribe EMI' System Amid Economic Struggles

In an unusual turn of events, government officials and police officers in Gujarat have introduced a method to facilitate the payment of bribes, allowing citizens to pay in installments, akin to the Equated Monthly Installment (EMI) system typically used in banking. This unconventional approach, reported by The Times of India, aims to ease the financial burden on citizens already grappling with economic hardships.

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The practice, dubbed “Bribe EMI,” represents a “considerate” twist on corruption. Officials who still wish to extract bribes from economically struggling targets have adopted this method. For instance, an individual caught up in a State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) bogus billing scam earlier this year was asked to pay a bribe of ₹21 lakh. However, recognizing the difficulty of paying such a large amount at once, the officials offered the option to pay ₹2 lakh monthly over nine months.

Similarly, a police officer in the cybercrime unit demanded ₹10 lakh from a citizen, suggesting the amount be paid in four installments. In another instance from Surat, a deputy sarpanch and a taluka panchayat member demanded ₹85,000 from a villager for leveling his farm. Understanding the villager’s limited financial means, they proposed a down payment of ₹35,000 followed by three subsequent payments.

This installment-based bribery system has extended to various sectors, including the police force. Recently, two officers fled after receiving ₹4 lakh, which was only the first installment of a ₹10 lakh bribe demanded from a resident of Sabarkantha district.

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A senior official from Gujarat’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) highlighted the growing popularity of the Bribe EMI practice, noting that ten cases had been reported this year alone. The official explained, “Just as people take loans or opt for EMIs to afford houses, cars, or other valuable items, corrupt officials are now applying the same concept to bribes. This new trend reflects the desperate economic circumstances many citizens face.”

The introduction of the Bribe EMI system has sparked outrage and concern among the public and anti-corruption advocates. Critics argue that this practice not only normalizes corruption but also exploits the financial vulnerabilities of ordinary citizens. The ACB is under increasing pressure to address this issue and take stringent actions against those perpetuating such corrupt practices.

Public reaction has been a mix of shock and frustration. Many citizens feel that this development further erodes trust in public institutions and exacerbates the challenges of fighting corruption. Social media platforms have been abuzz with discussions about the ethical and legal implications of this practice, with calls for more transparency and accountability in governance.

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To combat this growing issue, the ACB has promised a thorough investigation and stricter enforcement of anti-corruption laws. The bureau is also considering implementing new measures to ensure that government officials cannot exploit citizens under the guise of financial flexibility.

As Gujarat grapples with this new facet of corruption, the focus remains on restoring integrity and trust in public offices. The coming months will be crucial in determining how effectively the state can address and curb this disturbing trend, ensuring that the public’s interests are safeguarded against such exploitative practices.

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