What to do if a government official asks for a bribe?

bribe

We come across so many instances of demands of bribe in our day to day life.  Many believe that this system does not work without giving additional money to public authorities. In order to smoothen their work they fill their pockets. But, a lot many times, the public authorities do not work without bribery. They themselves demand for bribe which goes directly in their pockets. Everybody knows that this is illegal.

But what actions can be taken against them? What are the laws under which they can be penalised? Let’s understand the meaning of ‘bribery’ first. “Bribery is the act of giving or receiving something of value in exchange for some kind of influence or action in return, that the recipient would otherwise not offer.”[i] Bribery has been defined in Black Law’s Dictionary as “the offeringgivingreceiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.”

The public authorities in pursuance of their “public duty” ask for bribe and due to this corruption is increasing in our country by leaps and bounds. Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 specifies the provisions which aid to fight this menace called corruption.

Public duty and public servant

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 applies to Public servants when they are doing their public duty. Section 2(b) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 defines public duty as, “a duty in the discharge of which the State, the public or the community at large has an interest” and according to Section 2(c) public servant includes the following:

  • any person in the service or pay of the Government or remunerated by the Government by fees or commission for the performance of any public duty;
  • any person in the service or pay of a local authority;
  • any person in the service or pay of a corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act, or an authority or a body owned or controlled or aided by the Government or a Government company as defined in section 617 of the Companies Act, 1956;
  • any Judge, including any person empowered by law to discharge, whether by himself or as a member of any body of persons, any adjudicatory functions;
  • any person authorised by a court of justice to perform any duty, in connection with the administration of justice, including a liquidator, receiver or commissioner appointed by such court;
  • any arbitrator or other person to whom any cause or matter has been referred for decision or report by a court of justice or by a competent public authority;
  • any person who holds an office by virtue of which he is empowered to prepare, publish, maintain or revise an electoral roll or to conduct an election or part of an election;
  • any person who is the president, secretary or other office-bearer of a registered cooperative society engaged in agriculture, industry, trade or banking, receiving or having received any financial aid from the Central Government or a State Government or from any corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act, or any authority or body owned or controlled or aided by the Government or a Government company as defined in section 617 of the Companies Act, 1956;
  • any person who is a chairman, member or employee of any Service Commission or Board, by whatever name called, or a member of any selection committee appointed by such Commission or Board for the conduct of any examination or making any selection on behalf of such Commission or Board;
  • any person who is a Vice-Chancellor or member of any governing body, professor, reader, lecturer or any other teacher or employee, by whatever designation called, of any University and any person whose services have been availed of by a University or any other public authority in connection with holding or conducting examinations;
  • any person who is an office-bearer or an employee of an educational, scientific, social, cultural or other institution, in whatever manner established, receiving or having received any financial assistance from the Central Government or any State Government, or local or other public authority.

Offences related to bribery

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 specifies the following offences:

  • Gratification other than legal remuneration- Section 7 of the Act says that if any public servant while performing his/her official functions accepts or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain any gratification, then he/she shall be punishable with imprisonment of minimum 6 months and maximum 5 years and shall also be liable to fine.
  • Gratification to influence public servant- According to Section 8 and 9 of the Act, if any public servant in exercise of official functions, accepts or agrees to accepts or attempts to obtain any gratification to induce any public servant through corrupt or illegal means or by personal influence then he/she would be punished for minimum 6 months and maximum 5 years and shall also be liable to fine. Section 10 says that if any person abets these offences of influencing public servant as per Section 8 and 9 shall be liable for punishment.
  • When Public servant obtains valuable thing without consideration- According to Section 11, if any public servant obtains, accepts to obtain or attempts to obtain any valuable thing without consideration or with inadequate consideration, then he/she shall be liable for the punishment of minimum 6 months not exceeding 5 years and shall also be liable to pay fine. The person abetting this offence shall also be liable for punishment.
  • Criminal misconduct by public servant- Section 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 talks about criminal misconduct. Following will be included in criminal misconduct:
  • Whoever habitually commits an offence under Section 7 and 11;
  • If a public servant dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriates or otherwise converts for his own use any property entrusted to him or under his control as a public servant or allows any other person so to do;
  • If public servant obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage whether by corrupt or illegal means, by abusing his/her position as public servant or while holding office.
  • If public servant or anyone on his/her behalf is in possession of pecuniary

resources or property  disproportionate to his/her known sources of income.

Punishment of minimum 1 year which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.

  • Habitual Commission of offences- Section 14 says that if any person habitually commits any offence punishable under Section 8, 9 and 12 is punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than 2 years and which may extend upto 7 years and shall be liable for fine also.

Demand and Acceptance of bribe by public official essential the offence of bribery

It is decided in many cases that demand and acceptance of bribe is very necessary and without these components, the government official cannot be charged under Anti corruption Act, 1988.

In Sukhdeo Lakshman Parale v. State of Maharashtra[ii], a person made complaint to Anti Corruption Bureau against the government official. The officials of Bureau laid a trap and the government official was caught red handed taking the bribe. However, High Court held that there is no proof of demand of bribe by the government official and hence he was not guilty of the offence.

Similarly, in Dashrath Singh Chauhan v. Central Bureau of Investigation, it was held that twin requirement of demand and acceptance of bribe is to be proved before convciting any governemnt official.

Procedure to file a complaint against a government official [iii]

When any government official demands for bribe, then the person can file complaint in Anti- Corruption Bureau. This institution lays down trap for the government official who demands for bribe.

  • Any person from whom the demand for bribe has been made or who has knowledge about such offence can file complaint in Anti-Corruption Bureau.
  • The complaint can be filed with the Deputy Superintendent of Police or Inspector of Police or it can be presented to senior officers of Anti Corruption Bureau.
  • There is no need of lawyer for filing the complaint.
  • The complaint should be in the form of a letter having the details of applicants and of the government servant against whom the complaint is made.
  • The letter can be either sent via registered post or e-mail.

Provisions have been made to help the public fight against the cases of corruption. Anti Corruption Act, 1988 and Anti Corruption Bureau both aid to provide the measures so that people who demand and accept bribe can be trapped and punished. For eliminating corruption in the country, it is essential to report these incidents of bribery.

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Reference

[i] Wikipedia, Bribery, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bribery#cite_note-1 (Last visited on August 6, 2019, 8.21 PM)

[ii] 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1194

[iii] Law for me, How to file a Complaint against the Corruption, http://lawforme.in/remedy/how-to-file-a-complaint-against-the-corrupt/ (Last visited on August 7, 2019, 1.20 PM)

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I am Ritika Sharma, pursuing B.com LLB (Hons.) from University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. My fields of interest are Law and psychology. I love to research and write articles and poems on social issues. I have a penchant for reading novels of different genres. When I am not reading or writing, I am probably sketching and watching movies. I like exploring and knowing the facts of mysterious places and incidents as well.