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Anti-corruption Law in India

This article contains a simple explainer on the Prevention of Corruption Act, the main law against Public Corruption in India

The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 has been enacted to deal with prevention of corruption and for matters connected therewith.

What crimes are punished by this law?

  • When a public servant accepts money or gifts over and above their salary, in return for favoring a person in their official duty.
  • When a public servant accepts gifts from a person with whom they have a business or official relationship without paying them.
  • When a public servant is guilty of criminal misconduct such as regularly accepting bribes to favor people during their official duty.
  • If any person accepts money or gifts in return for influencing the public servant by using his personal connection or through illegal or corrupt methods, this person can also be punished.
  • Any person helping the public servant commit these crimes can also be punished.

Who is a 'public servant'?

You are a public servant if you are... Example
  • Working for the government;
  • Your salary is paid by the government and
  • The work you do is a public duty.
Mukesh is working as a senior post master for the Department of Post. He is a public servant because his salary is paid by the government and by delivering post he is doing a public duty.
Working for and are paid by a local authority like a municipality or panchayat. Mukesh is working as an officer in the Thane Municipality. He is a public servant because he is working for the municipality which is a local authority and his salary is paid by it.
Employed by and being paid by:
  • a company established under central or state laws (for example, the Life Insurance Corporation), or
  • a company which is aided by, owned or controlled by the government, or
  • a company where the government is the majority shareholder (for example, the Air India Limited)
  • Mukesh is a public servant if he works at either the Life Insurance Corporation or Air India Limited.
    A judge or performing the function of a judge under a state or central law. Mukesh is a public servant as he decides cases in the consumer forum.
    Asked by the court to do work in relation to settling disagreements among people who approach the court. Ananth and Ravi come to the court due to a land disagreement about the size of the land owned by Ananth. The court in order to decide the disagreement appoints Mukesh as a commissioner to visit the land and measure it. Mukesh is a public servant.
    An arbitrator in a dispute between parties. An arbitrator is similar to a judge, and is either appointed by parties or by the court to decide a disagreement between the parties in a quicker and less expensive manner. Ananth and Ravi come to court due to a disagreement about Ravi not supplying goods under their contract. The court appoints Mukesh as an arbitrator and decide this dispute quickly because the parties had agreed in their contract to refer any disagreement to an arbitrator instead of a court. Mukesh is a public servant.
    An officer who is involved in preparing an electoral roll or are in charge of an election. Mukesh is an election officer who prepared the electoral roll for the district of Anand in the Gujarat State Assembly elections.
    An officer whose work involves responsibilities to the government, the people or society. Mukesh is an officer who has to collect fines from people who park in the no parking zone. His work involves responsibilities towards the government, the people or society
    An officer of  :
    A) A co-operative society engaged in agriculture, industry, trade or banking, and
    B) The co-operative society is receiving money from:
    • the government, or
    • a company created by laws passed by the government, or
    • a company that is owned or controlled by the government or aided by the government, or
    • a company in which the government is the majority shareholder.
    Mukesh is the secretary of the Indian Agriculture Marketing Co-operative Ltd. He is a public servant as the co-operative society is involved in agriculture and receives money from the central government.
    The chairman or a member of a service commission appointed for conducting examinations or to choose suitable candidates. Mukesh is a member of the Uttar Pradesh Service Commission which conducts examination for various government posts (forest conservation officer etc.).
    A professor or a teacher in a university or you have been appointed by the university for conducting of examinations. Mukesh is a lecturer in the M.G.R. University in Chennai.
    Employed in educational or cultural institutes which get money from the central, state or local government (like the panchayat). Mukesh is a professor in the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, which is an education institution receiving money from Central Government.

    Please note that you are a public servant if you meet the requirements explained above - it doesn't matter if you were not actually appointed by the government.

    Also, you will be a public servant if you currently have the job, even if your appointment had some legal defect.

    Example : Mukesh (aged 65) is currently the professor of literature in Gargi College, Delhi University. He is a public servant even though his appointment had a legal defect as the college rules require professors to be less than 60 years of age.

    Is it unlawful for a public servant to take any money other than his salary?

    Yes, it is under the following circumstances:

    Crime Example
    Asking for or getting money or gifts, in addition to your salary, in return for doing your official duty. Ravi gifts Mukesh, a public servant, a house in Andheri in return for Mukesh giving fast approval to Ravi's building construction project.
    Asking for or getting money or gifts, in addition to your salary, in return for not doing your official duty. Mukesh is a tax assessment officer. Ravi gives Mukesh's sons admission for free in the school run by Ravi's family. This is so that Mukesh does not fine Ravi for failing to pay his income tax.
    When doing your official duty, being partial to the person who paid you. Mukesh, a municipality officer is paid Rs. 10,000 by Ravi so that Mukesh will award the project for building a road in the locality to Ravi's company
    Doing some service for the person who paid you, during your official duty. Mukesh is a teacher at the Howrah Railway School. Ravi pays him Rs. 1000 so that he gets a job in the Sealdah Railway Station.

    In each of these cases Mukesh can be sent to jail for at 3-7 years and will also pay fine.

    When can a public servant be punished for 'criminal misconduct'?

    You commit criminal misconduct if - Example
    You regularly accept money or gifts in addition to your salary for performing your official duties. Mukesh, a tax assessment officer, regularly accepts bribe from people who file wrong returns in return for not fining and investigating them. He can be punished for criminal misconduct.
    You regularly get something of value from someone with whom you have a business or official relationship without paying. Mukesh, a building inspector, regularly gets free movie tickets from a multiplex he's supposed to be auditing for fire safety. He can be punished for criminal misconduct.
    You steal, or get someone to steal or sell any property given to you as part of your official work. Mukesh, a customs officer, seizes an iPad from someone who has not paid proper duty on it. If he uses it for his own purposes, he commits the crime of criminal misconduct.
    You hold property or have money which is more than what you could have obtained from your government salary and you cannot account for this additional money or property ('disproportionate assets') Mukesh is a public servant and during the year 2013 his annual income was found to be Rs. 3 crores. His regular sources of income, like salary, and rent from property only adds up to 2 lakhs. The remaining cannot be traced to his regular sources of income. Therefore, Mukesh is said to have "assets disproportionate to his known sources of income".
    You demand and get any money or gifts, for yourself or any other person:
    By corrupt or unlawful means Mukesh, a tax assessment officer, demands that his son gets admission in Ravi's private school, if Ravi does not want to pay fine and be investigated for filing wrong returns.
    By misusing your position as public servant
    Mukesh promises Ravi that Ravi will get a job with the railways if he pays Mukesh Rs. 10,000.
    By acting without public interest in mind when you are currently in office as public servant Mukesh, a forest officer, demands Rs. 20,000 to allow Ravi to kill tigers in the forest.

    In all these cases, Mukesh, the public servant demands the money or gift and he will be punished for criminal misconduct. A public servant guilty of criminal misconduct can be sent to jail for a period of 4 to 10 years and can also be asked to pay a fine.

    Source: Nyaaya

    Related Resources:

    1. Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
    rahul sinha Aug 24, 2019 04:28 PM

    thanks for the simple explanation. really appreciate the effort.

    Rajashekhar Jul 25, 2019 08:33 AM

    I am a student. I have seen many government officers involved in corruption, in my region Raichur district. I want to report about them to through online with proofs.. hw can we do?
    Suggestions plz
    My email id : *******@gmail.com

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