Corruption has always been a hot topic in a fast growing economy like India as it has been one of the major reasons holding back its growth to full potential. Legislature has made innumerable efforts at trying to curb it over the years, some of which would be discussed in this write-up. It has been defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gains.
Broadly, it can be classified into three heads: public servants demanding or taking any favor, in cash or in kind in exchange for services; politicians misusing public money or granting public jobs or contracts to their known people; and corporations bribing officials to get lucrative details. It is now clear to us that corruption is committed by public servants, politicians or private/ public entities/ corporations. The definition of public servants can be found under section 21 of IPC.
LAWS RELATING TO CORRUPTION:
Now talking about the laws that govern corruption, let’s firstly refer to IPC in which Chapter IX has been dedicated to wrongful acts by public servant and to be more specific, section 169 of the Code penalizes unlawfully buying or biding of property by public servants in their own name or someone else’s to gain benefit; and section 171B of the Code refers to bribery during elections.
Since the number and types of acts were increasing each day, Chapter IX did not seem to be enough to tackle the situation, therefore, to bring all offences relating to the subject under one umbrella, a special Act known as the Prevention of Corruption Act was introduced dealing with the acts of not only the public servants but also of individuals and corporations concerning the subject matter.
Next in line is the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 which is established with the main purpose of punishing those individuals, whether public servant or not, who try to avoid taxes on a sum of money by transferring it to different accounts and making it look legitimate or on a sum of money that is obtained through illegal acts or means.
The Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 is an Act to make punishable the corrupt acts of the brokers who charge hefty commissions from suppliers.
The Income Tax Act 1961 also penalizes those residents who default in paying taxes on their computed income.
RTI Act 2005 is another Act that facilitates curbing corruption by providing access of data to citizens.
Companies Act 2013 also penalizes corrupt practices by companies or their stakeholders.
There are mainly three authorities that are involved in the process of investing, prosecuting and inquiring corruption cases are: Central Vigilance Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation and Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Internationally speaking, India also signed UN Convention against Corruption which obliges India to make anti-corruption laws and ensure their effective implementation in 2005 which was later ratified in 2011.
The most famous cases in the history till date are Satyam Scam, Commonwealth Games Scam, 2G Spectrum case, and the most recently alleged Raffle Deal Scam.
Interestingly, in 2011, it was proposed by the then Chief Economic Advisor of Ministry of Finance that bribery be legalized by dividing it into two classes: harassment bribe where the bribe giver is decent and has all the documents but still is forced to give it and non harassment bribe where the bribe-giver willingly gives it.
The reasoning he gave was that harassment bribes can be curbed if the bribe giver in such cases is given full immunity so that he can report such instances after getting his work done. This will make those in power to refrain from taking bribes from such innocent law abiding citizens.
To conclude, I’d like to make suggestions for improvement in India by taking inspiration from strategies of the least corrupt countries. Firstly, educating people of their rights and creating a platform for registering such complaints. Secondly, protecting the freedom of press so that reporters can publish any such information without fear.
Also, enforcing strict laws against public servants as well as private corporations and individuals and holding the culprits liable. Though there are already at par laws in India, there is a need to ensure its effective implementation to fulfil the basic purpose of the laws.