Corruption laws in India
Public servants in India can be penalized for corruption under the Indian Penal Code, 1860
and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act,
1988 prohibits benami transactions. The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
penalises public servants for the offence of money laundering. India is also a signatory (not
ratified) to the UN Convention against Corruption since 2005. The Convention covers a wide
range of acts of corruption and also proposes certain preventive policies.
In 2021 their Corruption Perceptions Index ranked the country in 85th place out of 180, on
a scale where the lowest-ranked countries are perceived to have the most honest public
sector. Various factors contribute to corruption, including officials siphoning money from
government social welfare schemes . Examples include the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural
Employment Guarantee Act and the National Rural Health Mission. Other areas of corruption
include India's trucking industry which is forced to pay billions of rupees in bribes annually
to numerous regulatory and police stops on interstate highways.
Process followed to investigate and prosecute corrupt public servants
The three main authorities involved in inquiring, investigating and prosecuting corruption
cases are the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the Central Bureau of Investigation
(CBI) and the 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 investigates 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 rests on the department authority.
• Prosecution can be initiated by an investigating agency only after it has the prior sanction
of the central or state government. Government appointed prosecutors undertake the
prosecution proceeding in the courts.
• All cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 are tried by Special Judges who
are appointed by the central or state government.
What crimes are punished by this law?
1. When a public servant accepts money or gifts over and above their salary, in return for
favoring a person in their official duty.
2. When a public servant accepts gifts from a person with whom they have a business or
official relationship without paying them.
3. When a public servant is guilty of criminal misconduct such as regularly accepting bribes
to favor people during their official duty.
4. 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
5. Any person helping the public servant commit these crimes can also be punished.