Given below is a comprehensive list of anti corruption laws in India. Every citizen should be aware of these.
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
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 fine.
• It is necessary to obtain prior sanction from the central or state government in order to
prosecute a public servant.
The Parliament of India also enacted the LLA to constitute a Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries. The LLA requires each State to establish a Lokayukta by law under the state legislature.
The Lokpal has the jurisdiction to inquire into all complaints arising from the PCA against certain public functionaries, including an incumbent or past Prime Minister, an incumbent or past Union Minister and any person who is or has been a member ofParliament.
The LLA provides that after the completion of investigation with respect to a complaint under the PCA, the Lokpal can itself initiate prosecution against the accused and/or impose penalties via its prosecution wing or initiate prosecution in the special court proposed to be established to try offences under the PCA.
The PCA does not provide for mitigation of bribery offences or any de minimis threshold for bribes. As the abetment of bribery is an offence under the PCA, it is generally accepted that the person offering a bribe to a public officer is an accomplice in the offence of accepting illegal gratification.
However, the courts in India have distinguished between different categories of bribe givers based on the intention and the degree of complicity of the bribe giver. For example, the fact that a bribe was offered under a threat of loss or harm may be considered to be a mitigating factor, depending upon the facts and circumstances of each specific case.
In order to determine the culpability of the bribe giver, the court will consider the extent and nature of such person’s complicity in the commission of the offence, which may vary having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case. Compliance programs may help prove that a company did not authorise the payment of a bribe.
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.
The 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 years.
• 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.
Whistleblower Protection Act, 2011
The Whistleblower Protection Act, 2011 (the “Whistleblowers Act”l) aims to promote and protect the interest of whistleblowers. It has been approved in both the Houses of the Parliament, and has received Presidential assent but is yet to come into force.
Under the Whistleblowers Act, any public servant or any other person including a non-governmental organisation may make a public interest disclosure to the CVC or the State Vigilance Commission or the High Court, including disclosures in relation to the commission of, or an attempt to commit, an offence under the PCA.
The Whistleblowers Act, seeks to establish a mechanism to receive complaints relating to disclosure on allegations of corruption, misuse of power against any public servant, to inquire into such disclosure and provide safeguards against the victimisation of the complainant.
The Whistleblowers Act also envisages a punitive mechanism in cases, inter alia, of not furnishing a report within the specified time (or a mala fide refusal to do so) and in the prescribed manner, or submitting a report knowing that it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading. In such an event, a penalty of INR 250 to INR 50,000 (approximately US$4 to US$825) may be imposed.
Where the organisation or official has knowingly given an incomplete, incorrect or misleading or false report or destroyed records or information that was the subject of the disclosure or obstructed the furnishing of a report in any matter, a penalty of INR 50,000 (approximately US$825) may be levied
RTI Act, 2005
Separately, it should also be noted that whilst the Right to Information Act, 2005 (the RTI Act) is not specifically an anti-graft law, it aims to increase the transparency of bureaucratic procedures, governmental accountability and transparency, and may thus be used to combat corruption. The RTI Act provides citizens with a right to secure access to information which is under the control of public authorities.
“Information”, as defined by the RTI Act, means any material in any form, including records, documents, data material held in any electronic form, and also includes information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a ‘public authority’ (including a body owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government) under any other law for the time being in force.
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.