Current Affairs

Corruption by the public servant is an offense against State: SC

  • Posted By
  • Categories
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    12th Sep, 2022
  • Context

    Corruption has come back into the spotlight after Supreme Court’s recent observation. The apex court observed that Corruption by a public servant is an offense against the State.

  • What are the important points highlighted by SC?

    • The bench noted that corruption by a public servant is an offense against the state and the society at large.
    • It said that it cannot deal with cases involving abuse of official position and adoption of corrupt practices, like “suits for specific performance”.

    Specific performance Principle:

    • The law relating to specific performance in the Specific Relief Act, of 1963 is an extremely important civil law.
    • Specific performance is an “equitable relief” granted by the Court to enforce contractual obligations between the parties. In such cases, the refund of the money paid may satisfy the agreement holder.
  • What is ‘Offences against the State’?

    On basis of the nature and gravity of the offences, offences against the State can be classified into:

    • Waging War (against the Government of India and any power): When several people in the State assemble and raise voice against the State by use of violence and force with an aim to attain object of public nature
    • Assault on high officials: Refraining higher official from exercising their lawful powers 
    • Escape of a state prisoner
    • Sedition:  defaming the Government established by the law. 
  • How Corruption can be considered against the State?

    • Corruption has direct damaging consequences in general on the functioning of state institutions, and in particular on the administration of justice.
    • Decreases public trust in justice
    • Weakens the capacity of judicial systems to guarantee the protection of human rights
    • Affects the tasks and duties of the judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and other legal professionals.
  • What are the impacts of Corruption?

    Impact on People and Public Life:

    • Lack of Quality in Services: In a system with corruption, there is no quality of service. To demand quality, one might need to pay for it. This is seen in many areas like municipalities, electricity, distribution of relief funds, etc.
    • Lack of Proper Justice: Corruption in the judiciary system leads to improper justice. And the victims of offense might suffer.
    • Poor Health and Hygiene: In countries with more corruption, one can notice more health problems among people. There will be no fresh drinking water, proper roads, quality food grains supply, milk adulteration, etc.
      • These low-quality services are all done to save money by the contractors and the officials who are involved.
    • Failure of Genuine Research: Research by individuals needs government funding and some of the funding agencies have corrupt officers.
      • These people sanction the funds for research to those investigators who are ready to bribe them.

    Impact on Society:

    • Disregard for Officials: People start disregarding the official involved in corruption by talking negatively about him.
    • Lack of Respect for Rulers: Rulers of the nation like the president or prime ministers lose respect among the public. Respect is the main criterion in social life.
      • If politicians are involved in corruption, people know they will lose respect for them and will not like to cast their votes for such politicians.
    • Lack of Faith and Trust in Governments: People vote for a ruler based on their faith in him/ her, but if leaders are found to be involved in corruption, people lose faith in them and may not vote next time.
      • Sincere, honest, and hardworking people develop an aversion for the particular posts deemed corrupt.

    Impact on the Economy:

    • A Decrease in Foreign Investment: Corruption in government bodies has led to many foreign investments going back from developing countries.
    • Delay in Growth: Work that can be done in a few days may be done in a month. This leads to delays in investments, the starting of industries, and also growth.
    • Lack of Development: Many new industries willing to get started in a particular region change their plans if the region is unsuitable.
      • If there are no proper roads, water, and electricity, the companies do not wish to start up there, which hinders the economic progress of that region.
  • What are the Legal Framework for Fighting Corruption?

    • Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 provides for penalties in relation to corruption by public servants and also for those who are involved in the abetment of an act of corruption.
    • The Amendment of 2018 criminalized both bribe-taking by public servants as well as bribe-giving by any person.
    • Prohibition of Benami Property Transaction 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.
    • The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 aims to prevent instances of money laundering and prohibits the use of the 'proceeds of crime' in India.
    • The Companies Act, 2013 provides for corporate governance and prevention of corruption and fraud in the corporate sector. The term 'fraud' has been given a broad definition and is a criminal offense under the Companies Act.
    • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, of 2010 regulates the acceptance and use of foreign contributions and hospitality by individuals and corporations.
  • Process followed to investigate and prosecute corrupt public servants:

    • The three main authorities involved in inquiring, investigating, and prosecuting corruption cases are:
      • Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)
      • Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
      • State Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)
    • Cases related to money laundering by public servants are investigated and prosecuted by the Directorate of Enforcement and the Financial Intelligence Unit, which are under the Ministry of Finance.
      • The CBI and state ACBs investigate cases related to corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
      • The CBI’s jurisdiction is the central government and Union Territories while the state ACBs investigate cases within the states. States can refer cases to the CBI.
    • The CVC is a statutory body that supervises corruption cases in government departments.
      • The CBI is under its supervision.
      • The CVC can refer cases either to the Central Vigilance Officer (CVO) in each department or to the CBI.
      • The CVC or the CVO recommends the action to be taken against a public servant but the decision to take any disciplinary action against a civil servant rest on the department's authority.
    • All cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 are tried by Special Judges who are appointed by the central or state government.

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