The Punjab Vigilance Bureau, the government agency in charge of investigating charges of corruption against public officials in the state of Punjab in India, launched an online complaint portal on 31 October in an effort to increase the involvement of the public in the fight against corruption in the state.
The online complaint portal, hosted on the website of the Bureau, allows users to register a complaint of corruption against any public official or Bureau officer in Punjab. Users can avail of this facility if they encounter incidents such as demand for bribes, unreasonable delay in service delivery or criminal misconduct by a public servant in any government department or agency.
To submit a complaint, users are required to provide the name, designation, department and location of the accused official in addition to the details of the incident. The system also allows users the unique facility of uploading audio or videos clips, photos, or documents to support their complaint, which will provide more evidence for the Bureau to launch an investigation.
In addition, each online complaint will be assigned a unique complaint number, which the complainant can use to check the status of their report online through the portal. Indian citizens residing outside India can use the portal to lodge complaints of corruption too.
Along with the online portal, the Bureau launched a toll-free phone number that people can call at no cost to register complaints. An officer from the Bureau is required to get in touch with the complainant within two days of the call to check details of the complaint and get more information.
In a country where public corruption is highlighted as one of the biggest problems and inhibitor of growth, this initiative is expected to enable more people to report incidents of corruption by enhancing convenience and accessibility, and lowering costs. The Bureau is required to keep the identity of the informant confidential to encourage more people to come forward and register complaints.
Launching the portal and phone number, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, stressed the need to increase awareness of this service among the public. The Bureau has requested government departments to post a link to the portal on their websites, and is planning to use posters and television advertising to make the public aware of the option of using the internet or phone to register complaints.