Even today, India's economy suffers from serious problems of corruption. In fact, one of the biggest roadblocks to progress for developing nations like India is regarded to be corruption. There are numerous definitions of corruption. According to the Oxford Dictionary, "corruption" is defined as "the abuse of public power for private gain." According to a report on global development, the issue of corruption affects both the public and private sectors and suggests that the government is strangling society through politico-bureaucratic means while hiding behind the cloak of democracy and the rule of law. Its fallout adversely affects growth.
Government Officials in India can be penalized for corruption under the Indian Penal Code of 1860 and the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988. Benami transactions are forbidden by the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act of 1988. Government Officials who engage in money laundering are subject to punishment under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2002. Since 2005, India has been a signatory to the UN Convention against Corruption. The Convention addresses a wide variety of corrupt practices and from time to time suggests certain preventive measures.
This article aims to explore the aspects of anti-corruption law for government offices in India vis-à-vis statutory law as well as judicial precedents. Read on!
KEY ELEMENTS OF THE ACTS RELATED TO CORRUPTION
Indian Penal Code, 1860
According to the IPC, "public servant" refers to any government official, military, navy, or air force officer, police officer, judge, or other officials of the Court of Justice, as well as any local authority established by a Centre or State Act.
A government official who buys or bids on property unlawfully is in violation of Section 169. A government official who violates the law will be punished with up to two years of imprisonment, a fine, or both. If the property is purchased, it shall be confiscated.
Section 409 pertains to criminal breach of trust by government officials. The official will be penalized with life imprisonment or a fine.
Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988
In addition to the groups included by the IPC, the term "public servant" also refers to officials working for banks, universities, and the Public Service Commission as well as cooperative societies that receive government funding.
A government official or public servant faces a minimum six-month sentence and a maximum five-year sentence and fine if he or she takes gratification other than his or her legal remuneration in exchange for performing an official act or influencing other public employees. He can also be punished under the law for using illegal means to exert personal influence over another public servant or for obtaining gratification from doing so.
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988
The Act forbids any benami transaction, which is defined as buying anything under someone else's name without paying for it, with the exception of when a person buys something in his wife's or unmarried daughter's name.
Anyone who engages in a benami transaction shall be punishable with a sentence of up to three years in prison and/or a fine.
A designated authority may acquire all alleged benami properties without the need for payment of any kind.
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
Government Officials who engage in money laundering are subject to punishment under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2002. According to the Act, whenever a person participates in any procedure involving the proceeds of crime and presents those proceeds as untainted property, money laundering has been committed. Any property acquired by a person as a result of criminal conduct connected to some of the offences enumerated in the schedule to the Act is referred to as "proceeds of crime." Only after being accused of committing a scheduled offence may someone be charged with money laundering.
Money laundering is an offence that carries a rigorous three- to a seven-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of Rs. 5 lakh.
RIGHT TO INFORMATION AND CORRUPTION
The Right to Information is a fundamental Human Right. It is the secret to Democracy and Development, giving participatory democracy meaning, establishing trust in government, promoting people-centred development, encouraging equitable economic growth, combating corruption, and enhancing media capacity.
The Right to Information Act 2005 has provided us with the right to get information from the government. Through this, we can now reveal corruption and make clear which obligations the officials are neglecting.
Every citizen is given the following rights under the Right to Information Act of 2005:
Request information from the government or ask any questions;
Make copies of any government documents;
Examine any government documents;
Inspect any government works, and
Take samples of materials from any government work.
The process to file RTI:
On the RTI online platform, select the submit request option to submit an RTI application. The "Guidelines for use of RTI online portal" screen will appear after selecting the submit request option. Several guidelines for using the RTI online portal can be found on this screen.
After that, the user will see the screen of the online RTI request form. The applicant may choose from the Select Ministry/Department/Apex body list the ministry or department for which they wish to submit an RTI.
If a person falls under the BPL category, s/he must check the box next to the question "Is the applicant below the poverty line?" and submit a copy of their BPL card. (If a citizen falls within the non-BPL category, s/he must choose "No" and pay the Rs.10 fee outlined in the RTI Rules, 2012)
Up to 3,000 characters may be used in the text of an RTI request application. The application can be uploaded in the field for supporting documents if the text is longer than 3000 characters. Click the "make payment" button after filling out all the fields of forms to bring up an online request payment form.
An individual registration number would be given upon submission of the application, and the applicant might use this number for future references. If the applicant supplies a mobile number, he or she will receive SMS notifications. The applicant will be notified by email and SMS.
HOW TO DEAL WITH CORRUPTION IN PRIVATE OFFICES?
Corruption is bad for both society and business and poses serious financial, operational, and reputational concerns. Now more than ever Companies are working to incorporate serious and effective anti-corruption measures and policies inside their strategy and operations.
Here are some strategies for encouraging accountability and transparency in a private company:
Commit: Integrate anti-corruption practises into business practises. Make it clear to the company's staff, clients, and suppliers that bribery and corruption are not tolerated.
Define: Specify what a company's success entails. Create objectives, plans, and policies, and gain support from colleagues by emphasising the significance of these policies in clear terms.
Implement: Integrate anti-corruption policies and programmes across the whole organisation, including the value chain.
Measure: What is measured, is accomplished. Track and assess the results of anti-corruption initiatives to determine what is effective and what still needs improvement.
With a strong emphasis on corporate governance and fraud prevention, the Companies Act of 2013 and the Securities Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations 2015 were created to regulate instances of private corruption among businesses (both domestic and foreign).
For regulating corruption among individuals those with undisclosed income and tax evaders have been targeted– Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets), the Imposition of Tax Act of 2015, and the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act of 2018.
HOW TO DEAL WITH CORRUPTION IN PUBLIC OFFICES?
Public corruption is defined as the promise, offering, or giving, to a public official, directly or indirectly, of an undue advantage, for the official himself or herself or another person or entity, in order that the official act or refrain from acting in the performance of his or her official duties.
The following laws are in place to regulate the behaviour of Government Officials and to address the problem of public bribery: the Lokpal (independent ombudsman) to investigate and convict public employees, including ministers, for corruption; the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act of 2013, the Center Civil Services (Conduct) Rules of 1964, the All India Services (Conduct) Rules of 1968, and the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988 (PCA).
Vijay Madanlal Choudhary v. Union of India:
When interpreting Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, The Supreme Court of India held that it is not necessary to demonstrate that the proceeds of crime are untainted in order for the offence to be prosecuted under the PMLA. As a result, the word "and" for demonstrating the proceeds of crime are untainted property is construed as "or" because it must not defeat the very purpose of the Act.
The court further asserted that indulging in or aiding in the activity of obtaining the proceeds of crime is a sufficient and reliable piece of evidence for attracting the crime under PMLA, and the property need not be shown to be untainted. The court argued that if this were not the case, members of crime syndicates would keep the proceeds of crime for years and would benefit from them without any intervention from law enforcement agencies.
Therefore, the section must be read in conjunction with the explanation added by an amendment in 2019, which is sufficient to declare participation in an activity to get the proceeds of crime a crime under the PMLA, 2002.
K. Shanthamma v. State of Telangana :
The Hon. Supreme Court of India ruled in the case that, in order to establish a case against someone under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, "Demand for Bribe" and "It's Acceptance by the Public Servant" is a requirement, and that simply recovering money from the accused will not result in his conviction under the Act.
The accused was cleared of all charges of corruption and bribery as a result of the court taking note of the fact that the prosecution witness (PW)-I in the case had not made the demand at the time of the trap and since then had improved in his statements during the main examination.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) v. Ramesh Gelli:
In this case, the Hon. Supreme Court of India ruled that directors and bank managers of private banks are included in the definition of "public servant" under Section 2 (c) of the PCA, 1988. Based on their roles and the nature of their work, the court determined that if these individuals commit fraud or bribery that causes financial losses to the community at large or to any particular person, they will also be prosecuted under the PCA's statutory provisions.
The development of any country is only achievable when the economy of the country is strong and no hindrance would weaken the economy. Due to the direct impact corruption has on the country's economic structure, it is both a social ill and one of the elements affecting the country's progress. The government has made numerous attempts to fight corruption, and as a result, laws pertaining to it have been passed. The Money Laundering Act, Black Money Act, and Prevention of Corruption Act, among others, as well as the Indian Penal Code, mention the crime and stipulate punishment for the Acts of Corruption. Even though India is a developed country with a strong legal system and similar provisions, corruption has not been completely eradicated from the country. However, there has been a decline in the level of corruption, making India the least corrupt of all the developed countries.
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