Corruption is one of the social evils found in all the societies of the world. Unfortunately, India is regarded as one of the countries in which corruption has become very much widespread during the recent years. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Corruption is a term with many meanings, but generally it entails misusing one’s office for a private gain or unofficial end. It involves both a monetary and non-monetary benefit. Bribery, extortion, influence peddling, nepotism, scams, fraud, ‘grease money’, these are types of corruption.
- The Dictionary defines corruption as “an inducement to wrong by bribery or other unlawful means: a departure from what is pure and correct.”
- The law dictionary defines corruption as “something against law; as certain acts by arbitrators, election or other officers, trustees; an act done with intent to gain an advantage not consistent with official duty and rights of others.”
- Corruption can be defined as “the misuse of entrusted power for personal benefit”.
It is a commonly held view that political and bureaucratic corruption, public funds embezzlement, fraudulent procurement practices and corruption in the enforcement and regulatory institutions and consumer exploitation by private companies/ contractors plague Indian public life. Examining the root causes of corruption in India and understanding its several manifestations is necessary to place the problem in its context and is an essential prerequisite for policy formulation.
There are two forms of corruption petty and grand corruption. Petty corruption is either the collusive or coercive action of a public official vis-a-vis a member of the public to subvert the system over relatively small transactions. Grand corruption is the subversion of the system by senior government officials and formations of the political executive, usually in collusion with private sector players. In India both forms of corruption are prevalent as result of which corruption has become endemic to Indian society.
Globally, there is a general consensus amongst most academics and policy makers that the debilitating effects of corruption permeate through all aspects of public life. The impact of corruption is multi fold, encompassing political costs, economic costs, social costs, environmental costs and issues of national security. Corruption within security agencies can lead to a threat to national security, including through distortion of procurement, recruitment of ineligible persons, providing an easy route for smuggling of weapons and terrorist elements into the country and money laundering. Given the entrenchment of corruption in Indian society, for any strategy against corruption to be successful, sustained commitment from all actors of society, including political leaders, various government agencies, civil society, media, the private sector and the common man, will be imperative.
Legal and regulatory frameworks underpinning public life play a vital role in controlling corruption in a country like India. The legal structure of society forms an important pillar in the fight against corruption. In India, the legal framework for curbing and controlling corruption is primarily based on statutory and common law. While existing legislations and executive orders have gone a long way towards reducing corruption levels in India, there still remain some areas that require change.
Government should frame strict and stringent anti-corruption laws. Severe punishments and penalties should be imposed on corrupt people. The justice and proceedings should not be delayed. Immediate action should be taken against corrupt people and necessary laws to be introduced for exemplary punishment to the identified corrupted people so that other people do not dare to act. The taxation law must be modified, licenses and permit system must be thoroughly reviewed and as far as possible licensing system should be abolished which breeds corruption . Bureaucratic corruption must be reduced by strong and effective enforcement of punitive measures against bribe-taking.
Certain sections of the IPC could be used for punishing those who are guilty of taking bribe. The Central Government introduced in 1947 “The Prevention of Corruption Act” for the more effective prevention of bribery and corruption. The Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 and its 2008 amendment is a specialised law aimed at curbing corruption in India. It criminalises corruption in the public and private sector in the form of attempted corruption, active and passive bribery, extortion, bribery of a foreign public officials, abuse of office, and money laundering.
The Right to Information Act (RTI Act), which took effect in October 2005, has played a central role in the fight against corruption in India. The RTI act gives information to the people about the mechanism to eradicate corruption. According to the RTI Act, citizens have the right to access government documents within 30 days from the filing of the request. Some commentators are enthusiastic about the effects of the RTI, while others point at the difficulty citizens from rural areas have to make full use of the law and to the need of making citizens and public servants more aware of the RTI. In rural area people have no idea about corruption so it is the duty of the RTI to make certain measures to give full information to the rural people about corruption.
The Right to Information Act, 2005 has reportedly improved bureaucratic transparency by giving citizens better access to records. Nevertheless, according to a July 2010 article by Hindustan Times, in practice, these measures have not proven as a sufficient protection measure for whistleblowers. According to the article, eight whistleblowers were killed in 2010 – at least two of them because they attempted to expose corruption. In August 2010, the Parliament approved the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, which enables the CVC to provide harsh penalty to people revealing the identity of whistleblowers.
In September 2010, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) unveiled the long-awaited long-term governmental anti-corruption initiative, the Draft National Anti-Corruption Strategy. The Draft Strategy aims at creating a legal and regulatory anti-corruption framework and strengthening the existing institutions to effectively combat corruption. This draft piece of legislation is expected to increase the role of institutions such as the CVC, Central Bureau of Investigation, Comptroller and Auditor General, as well as the various anti-corruption agencies. It is also expected to address political and administrative corruption, as well as corruption within the private sector, according to a September 2010 article by Legal Perspectives.
A huge amount of wealth created through corrupt means find its way to bank account outside the jurisdiction of India. The steps being taken in this regard include amendment of Income Tax Act, 1961 to find out the huge amount of money deposited in the foreign bank. India is an active participant in the global efforts to facilitate exchange of tax information and to take action against tax evasion. These efforts need to be strengthened to eliminate opportunities for investment of wealth earned through corrupt activities. The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 (Benami Act) prohibits benami transactions and even provides for Government acquisition of property held benami. Most of the wealth in India which is accumulated through corrupt means gets invested in benami immoveable property, gold and jewellery, high value consumer goods and other conspicuous consumption. The steps should be taken for the effective implementation of the Benami act including passing rules for confiscation of benami property. The identity document should be made compulsory for all immoveable property with a proper identification number should be maintained.
There must be an adequate regulatory frame work to eradicate corruption from India. It is globally except that corruption deters the level of investment and weakens the economic development of a country. Hence for this reason we need effective regulators develop, to implement and monitor an effective anti-corruption program for themselves and the stakeholders. India has a number of institutions at the federal and state level with authority to deal with allegations of corruption. There are so many anti-corruption institutions to make strict laws on corruption. The Central Bureau of Investigation functions under the Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances. The CBI consists of three divisions: the Anti-Corruption Division, the Special Crimes Division, and the Economic Offences Division. These units have the power to investigate cases of alleged corruption in all branches of the central government, ministries, public sector entities and the Union Territories.
The Government of India has established various authorities to regulate different aspects of
the economy. In the Indian context, regulators carry wide ranging powers to make, authorize, recommend and govern policy decisions and administer and execute government programs. Regulators are important stakeholders for ensuring good governance and healthy competition.
There must be adequate policies, protocols, and monitoring/reporting mechanisms, including procedural actions and sanctions to counter corrupt practices.
There is need for effective ethical framework as part of anti corruption strategy. The Government aimed at developing appropriate communication and educative mechanism to spread core values and ideals for which the regulator stands for. There is a need to create public awareness on anti-corruption strategy, complaint and whistle blowing mechanisms and on strong monitoring and reporting mechanism by posting periodic updates on the respective web sites and sharing of the information with other regulators or Government agencies for appropriate action to eradicate corruption.
In many instances, regulators prescribe self regulatory measures for their stakeholders (for example brokers in capital markets and practicing public accountants). Such measures govern the conduct of participants in the regulator’s area of operation and serve as an important line of defence against unethical activity contributing to corruption. It worsens our image in international market and leads to loss of overseas opportunities. Corruption is a global problem that all countries of the world have to confront, solutions, however, can only be home grown. It affects the mind of the people. We have tolerated corruption for so long. It has created a huge problem. The time has now come to root it out from its roots. The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, has been a miserable failure in reaching its target.
There should be exclusively an Autonomous Body like “Election Commission” where the Chief Functionary and other top officials will be appointed by the President of India and once they are appointed they will be acting as their own to implement the law /rules in order to arrest and curve and bring down the corruption graph. They will have the power to access in all the fields and all the walk of the life and to keep the close vigil of the activities of all the Bureaucrats, Ministers, MLA, MPs and other sources wherefrom corruption is being generated.
Sufficient, qualified and most professional personnel without any nepotism, favouratism and political interference , should be recruited so that close, constant vigilance can be arranged . Moreover early disposal of the case must be assured so that corrupted people cannot escape throwing dust into the eyes of law for the cause of inordinate delay in framing charge-sheet and completion of case and its judgment. We know that corruption has increased out of all proportions. To eradicate corruption from the society we need new legislative enactment by the Central Government and its sincere and serious implementation.