India figures as the seventh most corrupt country in the world according to Transparency International’, a non-government German Organization. Acceptance of gifts and rewards for work done in an official capacity, or obtaining objects or advantages., Illegally, or fraudulent use of public property, acquiring financial resources more than one’s income, abuse of public office, avoiding one’s duty or avoiding payment of taxes are a few kinds o corruption prevalent in our society today. Defence Ministry and Ministry of Communication are regarded as ‘gold mines for making money’. Corruption is also at a high rate in departments like Public Works, Police, Excise and Revenue. Corruption in these departments is rampant at all levels from the highest to the lowest. The registered number of cases of corruption in India under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 varied from 300 to 500 between 1981 and 1987 but after the enforcement of 1988 Act, the number now varies between 1800 to 2000 annually.
It is well established that politicians are extremely corrupt the world over. In fact, people are surprised to find an honest politician. These corrupt politicians go scot-free, unharmed and unpunished. Leaders like Lal Bahadur Shastri or Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel are a rare breed now who had very little bank balance at the time of death. The list of scams and scandals in the country is endless. The Bofors payoff scandal of 1986 involved a total amount of Rs 1750 crore in purchase of guns from a Swedish firm for the Army. The Cement scandal of 1982 involved the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, the Sugar Scandal of 1994 involved a Union Minister of State for food, the Urea Scam and of course no one can forget Hawala Scandal of 1991, the Coffin-gate, fodder scam in Bihar or the Stamp scandal which shocked not only the political arena but the entire society.
Various laws have been framed from time to time to prevent or at least reduce corruption. The Prevention of Corruption Act came into force in September 1988. It was an improvisation of the Act of 1947. The scope of the 1988 Act was enlarged and widened to include the term ‘public servants’. Thus if an offence against a public servant is proved in the court there will be imprisonment of not less than 6 months upto 5 years and also the person may be fined. The Central Government has set up four departments to check corruption—Administrative Vigilance Division in the Department of Personnel and Training, Central Bureau of Investigation, Domestic Vigilance units in Ministries / Departments / Public Undertaking or Nationalized Banks and Central Vigilance Commission.
Laws and rules have to be implemented with strictness and if needed, the outdated ones should be amended in order to check the acts of corruption. Vigilance should be increased so that people think twice before indulging in corrupt practices. Election expenses should be strictly curtailed and finally, without the co-operation of the common man, the evil of corruption cannot be eradicated.