Sunday, August 28, 2011

AM I A VICTIM OF DEEMED CORRUPTION ?

AM I A VICTIM OF DEEMED CORRUPTION ?


This morning while discussing recent events pertaining to Anna Hazare’s Anti-Corruption Movement, the Lokpal Bill and current events, someone mentioned the term “Deemed Corruption”. He said that if a government servant delays the work of a citizen beyond a reasonable time then that government servant will be deemed to be corrupt and it will be a case of deemed corruption. After hearing this, I thought of a recent problem which is happening to me and I wonder whether I am unwittingly a victim of deemed corruption. 


When I was in the navy we were required to be prompt in the performance of our duties, but unfortunately the same promptness was not shown towards us by various civilian “babus” especially those in accounts offices. And now, for no fault of mine, I am facing a problem after my retirement too, owing to the indifferent attitude of the lower bureaucracy. I retired almost one year ago but even till today a part of my retirement benefits have been withheld because of gross inefficiency on the part of a nameless faceless clerk. Let me tell you about it.


Our Accounts Office withheld a substantial amount from my retirement benefits for adjustments towards house rent since my original rent bills were not received by them from the MES (Military Engineering Service) from the year 2008 onwards despite reminders. (I had no role to play in this - the MES is required to directly send the bills to our Accounts Office promptly in a time bound manner). Of course, my pay office had been deducting provisional house rent every month from my salary but they said they had to reconcile with the original rent bills, adjust plus or minus, get it audited, and only then could they release the money due to me.


I occupied those government quarters in 2008 and vacated them in 2010. Monthly provisional rent has been regularly recovered from me. The biggest joke is that the MES has issued me a Final Clearance Certificate and a Final No Demand Certificate when I vacated the house. These certificates have been sent to the Accounts Office. But all this is of no use as they want the original rent bills from the MES and there is nothing I can do about it except write reminders and wait patiently.


Someone told me that as per norms the MES is required to send rent bills to the accounts office every quarter (within three months) but in this case the work has been delayed by over four years by some clerk in the MES and I am the loser for no fault of mine. There is no effective grievance redressal machinery to whom I can complain. All that is happening is that there is ever-increasing correspondence as letters and reminders are being exchanged between various agencies but nothing seems to move the mighty clerks of the MES.


I wonder whether this inordinate delay is due to inefficiency or is it a case of deemed corruption?


Is it possible that my work is being purposely delayed because I did not pay the required “mamool” or speed money? Frankly I don’t know whether I have to pay a bribe to the MES clerks in order to get this routine work done – I have never done so before and I am not going to do so now.


This case shows that how the clerks of the lower bureaucracy are supreme. They have no accountability and seem to be invulnerable. No one is held responsible for such delays and for non-performance of their duties. I am sure many such cases of “deemed corruption” are happening everywhere and common citizens are suffering for no fault of theirs as their work is inordinately delayed by lower bureaucracy.


Anna Hazare is right. Whereas Grand Corruption and Multi-Crore Scams grab the headlines and this may be important at the macro level as it affects the nation, at the micro level, it is petty corruption by the lower bureaucracy which is troubling the common citizen. It will be a great relief to the common man if the chronic problem of omnipresent all-pervading petty corruption can be addressed effectively.


I wish the government enacts a strong and effective Lokpal Bill which brings the lower bureaucracy under its purview, specifies a time bound Citizens Charter, implements and puts in place an effective, prompt, easy to use, e-governance style IT Based online Grievance Redressal Mechanism and, most importantly, incorporates the concept of deemed corruption and stipulates severe punishment and heavy penalties for those indulging in deemed corruption and harassing the common citizen. This will surely help alleviate the distress caused to the common citizen.


PS - As far as my case is concerned, I don't know what to do. Any suggestions on how to solve my problem?



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