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.
Key Features of the Acts related to corruption
Indian Penal Code, 1860:
• The IPC defines “public servant” as a government employee, officers in the military, navy or air force; police, judges, officers of Court of
Justice, and any local authority established by a central or state Act.
• Section 169 pertains to a public servant unlawfully buying or bidding for property. The public servant shall be punished with imprisonment
of upto two years or with fine or both. If the property is purchased, it shall be confiscated.
• Section 409 pertains to criminal breach of trust by a public servant. The public servant shall be punished with life imprisonment or with
imprisonment of upto 10 years and a fine.
The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988
• In addition to the categories included in the IPC, the definition of “public servant” includes office bearers of cooperative societies
receiving financial aid from the government, employees of universities, Public Service Commission and banks.
• If a public servant takes gratification other than his legal remuneration in respect of an official act or to influence public servants is
liable to minimum punishment of six months and maximum punishment of five years and fine. The Act also penalizes a public servant for taking
gratification to influence the public by illegal means and for exercising his personal influence with a public servant.
• If a public servant accepts a valuable thing without paying for it or paying inadequately from a person with whom he is involved in a
business transaction in his official capacity, he shall be penalized with minimum punishment of six months and maximum punishment of five years and
• It is necessary to obtain prior sanction from the central or state government in order to prosecute a public servant.
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988
• The Act prohibits any benami transaction (purchase of property in 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.
• Any person who enters into a benami transaction shall be punishable with imprisonment of upto three years and/or a fine.
• All properties that are held to be benami can be acquired by a prescribed authority and no money shall be paid for such acquisition.
he Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
• The Act states that an offence of money laundering has been committed if a person is a party to any process connected with the proceeds of
crime and projects such proceeds as untainted property. “Proceeds of crime” means any property obtained by a person as a result of criminal
activity related to certain offences listed in the schedule to the Act. A person can be charged with the offence of money laundering only if he
has been charged with committing a scheduled offence.
• The penalty for committing the offence of money laundering is rigorous imprisonment for three to seven years and a fine of upto Rs 5 lakh.
If a person is convicted of an offence under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 the term of imprisonment can extend upto 10
• The Adjudicating Authority, appointed by the central government, shall decide whether any of the property attached or seized is involved in
money laundering. An Appellate Tribunal shall hear appeals against the orders of the Adjudicating Authority and any other authority under the Act.
• Every banking company, financial institution and intermediary shall maintain a record of all transactions of a specified nature and value,
and verify and maintain records of all its customers, and furnish such information to the specified authorities.
rocess 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.
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