The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988; Important Questions

 

  • What does this law do?

This law defines who a public servant is and punishes public servants involved in corruption or bribery. It also punishes anyone who helps him or her commit the crime corruption or bribery.


  • 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.

  • What is an ‘election’?

An election is the process by which a person is elected to the Parliament, State legislature or any other local authority (e.g. municipality) through voting.


  • What is ‘public duty’?

As a public servant, a public duty is the responsibility you have towards the government, the people or society, in doing your duty. Just as you have a duty to take care of your parents in their old age, public servants have a duty towards the government, people and society at large.


  • 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, andB) 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.

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.


  • Who decides a case under this law?

Crimes under this law have to be decided by a special judge. The State or Central Governments will appoint these judges.


  • Briefly explain Section 4 i.e Cases triable by special Judges

Only a special judge appointed by Central or State government can decide cases under this law.When crimes under this Act go to court, the crimes will be decided by the special judge who is responsible for the area where it was committed or the special judge appointed for that specific case.Along with deciding your punishment for breaking this law, the special judge can also decide any other crime in the same trial.

Example:Mukesh is a public servant who has accepted bribes and stolen money from his employer. The special judge can conduct a trial for both crimes at the same time.The special judge as far as possible has to hold the trial every day, once he has begun the trial.


  • Briefly explain Section 5 i.e Procedure and powers of special Judge

Every criminal trial has to follow certain procedural rules which are provided in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This section explains the procedure to be followed for crimes under this law. The judge is also allowed to grant a pardon so as to obtain information about a crime.


  • Briefly explain Section 6 i.e Power to try summarily

This section explains the situations in which a simpler trial procedure (known as ‘summary trial’) can be followed.If the special judge in a summary trial passes an order for imprisonment for less than one month and imposes a fine below Rs. 2000, there can be no appeal by the public servant.

Example:Mukesh is tried under a summary trial and the special judge gives sentences him to jail for 20 days with Rs. 1,500 fine. Mukesh cannot file an appeal against this sentence by the special judge.


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

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


  • What if a person  lie about being a public servant?

For example, if you deliberately lie to Raj saying you are a public servant, and take money from him, you are guilty of only cheating and not breaking this law.


  • Does bribery have to be only with cash?

No. A public servant breaks this law by accepting any gift or benefit and not just money.For example, Ravi gives Mukesh (a public servant) membership to an exclusive club and attendant benefits in return for Mukesh giving him an official favour.

No. Legal remuneration includes salary, house allowance, pension payment and all payments that the public servant gets for his work.


  • Is it illegal to try and influence a public servant through corrupt methods?

Yes. You are breaking this law if you accept money or gifts in return for influencing a public servant by illegal or corrupt methods. You can be sent to jail for a period of 3 to 7 years and be asked to pay fine.

Example:You take money or gifts from Ravi to scare Mukesh, a railway officer to give Ravi a job in the Southern Railways, by kidnapping Mukesh’s daughter.


  • Is it a crime to take money to influence a public servant through your personal relationship?

You are breaking this law if you accept money or gifts in return for influencing a public servant using your personal relationship with the public servant. You can be sent to jail for a period of 3 to 7 years and be asked to pay fine.

Example:Mukesh, a tax officer, is your cousin. You take money or gifts from Ravi to convince Mukesh to overlook Ravi’s failure to pay his income tax.


  • What if I just help to influence another public servant?

You are breaking this law if you as a public servant help someone commit the crime of influencing public servants. It does not matter that the crime was not actually committed. You can be sent to jail for a period of 6 months to 5 years.

Example: Mukesh (a public servant) is Rajesh’s junior (also a public servant). Mukesh tampers with a file on Rajesh’s orders because Rajesh agreed to help Ravi get a contract with the government. It does not matter that Ravi didn’t eventually get the contract.


  • Is it a crime for a public servant to accept property from business associates?

You are breaking this law if you as a public servant accept something of value from a person without paying and with whom you have a business or official relationship. You can be sent to jail for a period of 6 months to 5 years and may also have to pay fine.

.Example:You are a public servant working in the Public Works Department and are in-charge of approving tender for road construction. You accept a car from Ravi without paying him any money. You know that his company will apply to your department for approval of a contract to build a highway.


  • Can I be punished for helping a public servant commit a crime under this law?

You are breaking this law if you help a public servant commit the crimes of accepting money in addition to their salary or property from business associates, even if the crime was not successfully committed. You can be sent to jail for a period of 3 to 7 years and will also have to pay fine.

Example:Rajesh, Ravi’s cousin offers Mukesh (a public servant) a new house in return for appointing Ravi to the post of junior Railway officer. Even if Ravi does not get the post, Rajesh has “abetted” or helped Mukesh break the law.


  • 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.


  • How are repeat offenders punished under this law?

Any person who regularly influences public servants through illegal means or uses business relationships to influence public servants can be sent to jail for a period of 5 to 10 years and can also be asked to pay fine.

Example:

You regularly take money from people who do not pay income tax to convince Mukesh, a tax assessment officer and also your cousin not to fine and investigate these persons for failing to pay income tax.


  • Can anyone be punished under this law even if he/she was not successful in committing the crime?

Yes, if you as a public servant try to steal or sell property given to you as part of your work or take gifts or money unlawfully, you can be punished. It does not matter that you did not succeed. You can be sent to jail for a period of 2 to 5 years and can also be asked to pay fine.

Example:

Mukesh is a police officer. His superior officer has given him gold jewelry for safekeeping, which was returned by a thief during police questioning. Mukesh tries to sell it to Ravi, but the senior officer sees them and stops him. Even though Mukesh failed he is still breaking this law.


  • Explain Section 16 i.e Matters to be taken into consideration for fixing fine.—

This section explains the factors to be considered by the court while deciding the amount of fine payable for certain crimes under this law.These factors include:

  • value of the property the public servant obtained for committing a crime under the Act, or
  • the amount of income which the public servant could not explain properly as to its source.

  • Who will investigate a case under this law?

This section talks about the level or rank of police who can investigate crimes under this law. For any lower rank police officer to investigate a crime under this law, an order of the Magistrate is necessary.


  • Can the police inspect your pass book and bank details if they doubt you are breaking this law?

Yes, if the police think that you are breaking this law and they have the power to investigate, they can check your banker’s books in connection with your crime. They can also check the banker’s books of another person who might be holding money on your behalf.

Banker’s books mean ledgers and account books where the day to day transactions of the bank or a specific bank account are stored.


  • Can you appeal or seek revision of the special judge’s decisions?

If the special judge finds you guilty, you can appeal or seek revision of the judgment before the High Court and the procedure for appeal and revision under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 will apply.


 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *