Corruption in India

The annual Kroll Global Fraud Report notes that India has among the highest national incidences of corruption (25%). The same study also notes that India reports the highest proportion reporting procure­ment fraud (77%) as well as corruption and bribery (73%). According to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, India is ranked 76 out of 167 nations

Acts related to corruption:

Indian Penal Code, 1860:

  • Section 169 pertains to a public servant unlawfully buying or bidding for the property. The public servant shall be punished with imprisonment of up to two years or with fine or both.
  • Section 409 pertains to criminal breach of trust by a public servant. The public servant shall be punished with life imprisonment or with imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine.


The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988

  • The Act prohibits any benami transaction (purchase of property in the false name of another person who does not pay for the property) except when a person purchases property in his wife’s or unmarried daughter’s name.
  • Any person who enters into a benami transaction shall be punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and/or a fine.

The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

  • In addition to the categories included in the IPC, the definition of “public servant” includes office bearers of cooperative societies receiving financial aid from the government, employees of universities, Public Service Commission and banks.
  • If a public servant takes gratification other than his legal remuneration in respect of an official act or to influence public servants is liable to a minimum punishment of six months and maximum punishment of five years and fine.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002

  • The Act states that an offense of money laundering has been committed if a person is a party to any process connected with the proceeds of crime and projects such proceeds as untainted property.
  • The penalty for committing the offense of money laundering is rigorous imprisonment for three to seven years and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh. If a person is convicted of an offense under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 the term of imprisonment can extend up to 10 years.

.United Nations Convention against Corruption 2003 (UNCAC)

  • States that have ratified UNTOC commit themselves to take a series of measures to prevent and control transnational organized crime, including
    • The criminalizing of the participation in an organized criminal group, of money laundering, related corruption, and obstruction of justice
    • The adoption of frameworks for extradition, mutual legal assistance, and international cooperation.

Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2013 and POCA Amendment Act

  • The changes introduced by this bill included:
    • Prosecuting the act of offering a bribe
    • Providing time-limits for completing trials
    • Attachment of tainted property
    • Prosecuting commercial organization as well for offering bribe

Right to Information

  • As per the provisions of this Act, any citizen may place a request for information from a “public authority”, where the concerned authority needs to reply within 30 days. Thus, this act has armed citizens to get complete information on public spending.

The Institutional Framework:

  • At the federal level, key institutions include the Supreme Court, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Office of the Controller & Auditor General (C&AG), and the Chief Information Commission (CIC).
  • At the State level, local anti-corruption bureau have been set up, such as the Anti-corruption Bureau of Maharashtra.

Challenges

  • Amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act narrows down the definition of corruption.
  • Lack of coordination between various investigation agencies is another shortfall of anti-corruption legislation.
  • Government has failed to promulgate rules and operationalize the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2014.
  • Investigating agencies have been barred from even initiating an inquiry or investigation into allegations of corruption without prior approval from the government.
  • Also, cases involving gratification are often impossible to trace as they may be deferred in the form of post-retirement benefits or paid through clandestine off-shore accounts.
  • The amendments have done away with the offense of abuse of position by a public servant unless the element of bribery is established.
  • The Lokpal law was enacted to set up an independent and empowered anti-corruption ombudsman unfortunately the government has failed to take the necessary steps to appoint a Lokpal for nearly five years.
  • The RTI Act, one of the most effective tools to fight corruption and abuse of power, has been under constant attack by the government.

Way Forward:

  • There must be a strong agency to implement Anti Corruption laws effectively and prevent corruption in public life.
  • It is the need of the hour to bring Central Bureau of investigation and other Central and State investigation agencies out of control of the government.
  • The government should also address the regulatory concerns in Competition act, the companies act, income tax etc.
  • There should be focus on judicial reform and police reform.
  • Legislation for an effective mechanism to hold officials accountable was introduced in Parliament in the form of a Grievance Redress Bill in 2011. Unfortunately, it lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha in 2014 and needed to be reintroduced.
  • Government must ensure citizen participation.