A sand smuggler in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district can bribe his way out of a case for just Rs 20,000. But a civil dispute can be more expensive, with bribes going up to Rs 1 lakh to settle with the police. If a person is caught selling illegal lottery tickets, bribes can range from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 while those running bars without licences can evade a police case with a Rs 2,000 bribe, according to a Salem police circular which details ‘bribe rates’ of corrupt police officers.
The unusual circular first came from the DGP's office to all districts on October 6, 2021, including Salem, where M Sree Abhinav IPS, District Superintendent of Police, ordered all deputy and assistant superintendents of police to take strict action against corrupt police officials. The circular asked them to “tighten vigilance and ensure a corrupt-free administration by taking stringent action against erring officers”. The circular listed “the details of money collected by police personnel in the districts over various reasons i.e. violation, smuggling activities, etc.” as the ‘bribe rates’ for police officers in the district.
According to the notice, some police officers have been receiving “illegal gratification from anti-social elements” such as ganja/banned lottery, illegal liquor sellers, sand smugglers, running gambling houses and prostitution in the name of massage parlours. The circular also added that corrupt police officers were collecting money from their subordinates every month and for regular petition enquiries.
TNM got in touch with a senior police officer from Salem district who confirmed that the circular had been dispatched from the DGP’s office and that all district police chiefs had received it. However, it was not meant to be a public document.
The copy of the document leaked on social media not only has money demanded by police officers for various offences, but also breaks down the bribe rates based on the various ranks in the police department. The document shows that a sub-Inspector of police can demand up to Rs 20,000 for a civil dispute; and when it comes to an Inspector, the bribe rate for a civil dispute goes up to Rs 1 lakh.
Similarly, for persons indulging in illegal sale of liquor through saathukadai or shop, an SI can claim up to Rs 2,000 per shop. For the same, an inspector can charge from Rs 10,000 to Rs 60,000.
The ‘rates’ have been broken down based on ranks of the police officials, i.e. police station writers, sub-inspectors, inspectors, special branch personnel, highway patrol duty officials, etc.
After a copy of the circular was leaked on social media, several people lauded the Salem SP for his action to ensure a corruption-free police administration. BJP State President K Annamalai, through a tweet, praised the SP for his transparent effort to fight corruption. “At the same time, what is the Chief Minister MK Stalin, who administers the home affairs in the state, going to say about this? Has corruption soared in the police department after the DMK came to power?” he asked.