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How to Report Corruption in India: Guide to Prevention of Corruption Act

Corruption is a serious problem that affects the lives of millions of people in India. It undermines the rule of law, erodes public trust, and hampers economic development. According to Transparency International, India ranked 86th out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2020, with a score of 40 out of 100. This indicates that corruption is widespread and systemic in the country.

But what can you do if you witness or experience corruption in India? How can you report it and seek justice? What are the laws and procedures that govern corruption cases in India? In this blog post, we will answer these questions and provide you with a comprehensive guide to the Prevention of Corruption Act and procedures for reporting corruption in India.

What is the Prevention of Corruption Act?

The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (PCA) is the primary anti-corruption law in India. It aims to combat corruption in government agencies and public sector businesses in India. It defines various offences related to corruption by public servants and prescribes penalties for them. It also empowers the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) or the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate and prosecute corruption cases. The PCA was amended in 2018 to introduce some changes, such as:

  • Expanding the definition of public servant to include any person who performs a public duty, such as employees of NGOs, trusts, societies, etc.
  • Replacing the term “gratification” with “undue advantage” to cover any material or non-material benefit obtained by a public servant or any other person.
  • Criminalizing the act of giving a bribe to a public servant by any person, except when it is done as a result of coercion or threat.
  • Criminalizing the act of bribing a public servant by a commercial organization, and holding its directors, managers, and officers liable for the offence.
  • Increasing the minimum punishment for corruption offences from six months to three years, and the maximum punishment from five years to seven years (or ten years in some cases).
  • Requiring prior approval from the competent authority before initiating an inquiry or investigation against a public servant.
  • Providing protection to whistleblowers and witnesses from harassment or victimization.

How to Report Corruption in India?

If you want to report corruption in India, you have several options depending on the nature and level of the offence. You can report corruption through:

  • Government-initiated agencies: These include the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and the Lokpal. These agencies are responsible for investigating and prosecuting corruption cases involving central government employees, public sector undertakings, banks, insurance companies, etc. You can file a complaint online or offline with these agencies, following their respective procedures and guidelines.
  • State-level agencies: These include the State Vigilance Commissions, the Anti-Corruption Bureaus, and the Lokayuktas. These agencies are responsible for investigating and prosecuting corruption cases involving state government employees, local authorities, etc. You can file a complaint online or offline with these agencies, following their respective procedures and guidelines.
  • Judiciary: You can also approach the courts directly by filing criminal complaint under Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) before a magistrate having jurisdiction over the offence.
  • Media: You can also expose corruption by reporting it to the media outlets, such as newspapers, TV channels, radio stations, websites, etc. However, you should be careful about verifying the facts and evidence before making any allegations, as you may face defamation charges if your claims are found to be false or malicious.

What are the Procedures for Reporting Corruption in India?

The procedures for reporting corruption in India vary depending on the agency you choose to approach. Here are some general steps that you can follow:

  • Gather evidence: The first step is to gather as much evidence as possible to support your complaint. This may include documents, receipts, audio recordings, video recordings, photographs, witnesses’ statements, etc. You should also note down the details of the incident, such as date, time, place, names of persons involved, amount involved, etc.
  • File a complaint: The next step is to file a complaint with the appropriate agency. You can do this online or offline depending on your convenience and preference. You should provide all the relevant information and evidence along with your complaint. You should also mention your name, address, contact number, email id, etc. You can also request anonymity or confidentiality if you fear any reprisal or threat from the accused persons.
  • Follow up: The last step is to follow up with the agency regularly to know the status and progress of your complaint. You can also seek legal advice or assistance from a lawyer or an NGO if you face any difficulty or challenge in the process. You should also cooperate with the agency and provide any additional information or evidence if required.

What are the Benefits and Challenges of Reporting Corruption in India?

Reporting corruption in India can have both benefits and challenges for you as a citizen. Some of the benefits are:

  • You can contribute to the fight against corruption and uphold the values of democracy, transparency, and accountability in the country.
  • You can seek justice and redressal for yourself or others who have been affected by corruption.
  • You can prevent further loss or damage to public resources and interests due to corruption.
  • You can expose and deter the corrupt persons from indulging in such practices in the future.

Some of the challenges are:

  • You may face harassment, intimidation, or violence from the corrupt persons or their associates.
  • You may face legal hurdles, delays, or obstacles in the investigation or prosecution of your complaint.
  • You may face social stigma, isolation, or discrimination from your family, friends, or community for reporting corruption.
  • You may face financial difficulties, emotional stress, or mental trauma due to the process of reporting corruption.

What are some Recent or Landmark Cases of Corruption in India?

Corruption in India has been a matter of public concern and debate for a long time. There have been several cases of corruption that have come to light in recent years, involving politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, celebrities, etc. Some of these cases are:

  • The 2G spectrum scam: This was one of the biggest scams in Indian history, involving the allocation of 2G spectrum licenses to telecom companies at throwaway prices, causing a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer. The scam was exposed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in 2010 and led to the arrest and prosecution of several ministers, officials, and businessmen. The Supreme Court cancelled all the 122 licenses issued by the government in 2008 and ordered a fresh auction.
  • The Commonwealth Games scam: This was another major scam that rocked the country in 2010, involving irregularities and corruption in the organization and conduct of the Commonwealth Games held in Delhi. The scam was exposed by various media reports and investigations by the CAG, the CBI, and other agencies. The scam involved inflated costs, substandard work, nepotism, favoritism, tax evasion, etc.
  • The coal block allocation scam: This was another huge scam that came to light in 2012, involving the allocation of coal blocks to private companies without any competitive bidding process, causing a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the exchequer. The scam was exposed by the CAG and led to a massive uproar in Parliament and public protests. The Supreme Court cancelled all the 214 coal block allocations made between 1993 and 2010 and ordered a fresh auction.

FAQ Section

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to reporting corruption in India:

Q: What is corruption? A: Corruption is defined as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain” by Transparency International. It can take various forms such as bribery, extortion, fraud, embezzlement, nepotism, cronyism, etc.

Q: Who is a public servant? A: A public servant is defined as any person who performs a public duty or holds an office under any law or government authority. It includes employees of central or state governments, local authorities, public sector undertakings, banks, insurance companies, NGOs, trusts, societies etc.

Q: What is an undue advantage? A: An undue advantage is defined as any gratification other than legal remuneration that is received or expected by a public servant or any other person as a motive or reward for doing or forbearing to do any official act or showing favor or disfavor to any person.

Q: What is a commercial organization? A: A commercial organization is defined as a body corporate

or a partnership or an association of persons, whether incorporated or not, that carries on a business in India or outside India. It also includes any person who performs services for or on behalf of such an organization.

Q: What is the punishment for corruption in India? A: The punishment for corruption in India depends on the nature and gravity of the offence. The PCA prescribes the following penalties for various offences related to corruption:

  • Taking or giving a bribe: Imprisonment for a term of not less than three years and not more than seven years, and fine.
  • Taking or giving a bribe by a commercial organization: Fine.
  • Obtaining or attempting to obtain an undue advantage: Imprisonment for a term of not less than three years and not more than seven years, and fine.
  • Abetting or attempting to abet an offence: Same as the offence abetted or attempted to be abetted.
  • Habitual offender: Imprisonment for a term of not less than five years and not more than ten years, and fine.
  • Criminal misconduct: Imprisonment for a term of not less than four years and not more than ten years, and fine.

Q: How can I protect myself from harassment or threat after reporting corruption? A: You can seek protection from harassment or threat after reporting corruption by:

  • Requesting anonymity or confidentiality from the agency you approach.
  • Seeking legal advice or assistance from a lawyer or an NGO.
  • Reporting any incident of harassment or threat to the police or the court.
  • Availing the benefits of the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, which provides safeguards to persons who make disclosures in public interest.

Conclusion

Reporting corruption in India is a civic duty and a moral responsibility. It can help in curbing the menace of corruption and improving the governance and development of the country. However, reporting corruption can also entail some risks and challenges that need to be addressed. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the laws and procedures that govern corruption cases in India and to seek appropriate guidance and support from reliable sources.

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