"she asked him to come with 4kg of fresh green peas along with the remaining money"
This strangely is the first case of its kind where a female Indian government employee was caught accepting 4kg of fresh peas (matar) as part of a bribe from a farmer along with cash.
The incident took place in Gwalior, a major city in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where Anita Srivastava, the woman officer caught, was posted as a reader of nayab tehsildar Kuldeep Kumar Dube.
The victim of the bribe was a farmer named Nand Kishore Singh Lodhi of Girwai village. He told Lokayukta officials that the officer demanded a bribe for updating revenue books with the transfer 10 acres of land. He needed the registration of the land desperately doing after being messed around for eleven months.
Initially, upon approaching the officer for the registration, Anita told Lodhi she wanted a bribe of Rs 10,000 (£110.50) on behalf of the tehsildar to complete the work for him, which she then reduced to Rs 6000 (£66.30). Lodhi gave her Rs 2000 of this bribe on Wednesday, February 21, 2018.
Lodhi was told that some of the bribe money would be handed over to the officer concerned and then demanded that the remaining money to be given on Friday, 23 February.
A Lokayukta official then unveiled the saga with the peas, saying:
“Before Lodhi left the office, she asked him to come with 4kg of fresh green peas along with the remaining money.”
So, after receiving the complaint from Lodhi, the officials decided to set-up a trap to catch Anita accepting the bribe. The farmer was sent with the outstanding money and the fresh peas.
The Lokayukta’s special police establishment officials deployed themselves around her office. Lodhi was sent to Anita’s office with the green peas and Rs. 4000 cash as planned.
Lodhi told the officer he had come with the bribe as requested. She told him to put the cash in the bag which contained the peas and to place them near her chair.
At this point, as soon as she was seen accepting the bribe, the Lokayukta officials raided the office and arrested her on the spot.
Anita Srivastava has been charged under various sections of India’s Prevention of Corruption Act.
Bribery and corruption amongst officials in India is still a major problem. It spans across many sectors from the police, airport officials to local government personnel like this woman officer.
This case shows that trying to eradicate incidents of this kind at a small level which may involve a strange bribe is very important for India to help combat the plague of corruption which makes headlines at the highest levels too, including cases like the fraud at Punjab National Bank.