Report No. 179
Phenomenon of Corruption: Causes and effects
Corruption is a common phenomenon in several countries, only the degrees of corruption differ. It is not as if there is corruption only in developing or poorer countries. There is corruption in developed countries too. In the last five years, leading politicians in U.K., Belgium, France, Spain and Italy have been convicted of corruption and in fact, the entire European Commission resigned because of it.
(a) Supreme Court's views on Corruption
Corruption in our country has a historical perspective of its own. As pointed recently by the Supreme Court, State of M.P. v. Ram Singh 2000 (5) SCC 88 "the menace of corruption was found to have enormously increased by the First and Second World War conditions. Corruption, at the initial stages, was considered to be confined to the bureaucracy, which had the opportunities to deal with a variety of State largesse in the form of contracts, licences and grants.
Even after the war, the opportunities for corruption continued as large amounts of government surplus stores were required to be disposed of by public servants. As a consequence of the wars, the shortage of various goods necessitated the imposition of controls and extensive schemes of post-war reconstruction involving the disbursement of 8 huge sums of money which lay in the control of the public servants, giving them a wide discretion, with the result of luring them to the glittering shine of wealth and property".
The Court observed that "in order to consolidate and amend the laws relating to prevention of corruption and matters connected thereto, the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 was enacted which was amended from time to time. In the year 1988 a new Act on the subject, being Act 49 of 1988, was enacted with the object of dealing with the circumstances, contingencies and shortcomings which were noticed in the working and implementation of the 1947 Act." In the same case, the Supreme Court further observed :
"Corruption is termed as a plague which is not only contagious but if not controlled, spreads like a fire in a jungle. Its virus is compared with HIV leading to AIDS, being incurable. It has also been termed as royal thievery. The socio-political system exposed to such a dreaded communicable disease is likely to crumble under its own weight. Corruption is opposed to democracy and social order, being not only anti people, but aimed and targeted against them. It affects the economy and destroys the cultural heritage. Unless nipped in the bud at the earliest, it is likely to cause turbulenc.- shaking the socio-9 economic-political system in an otherwise healthy, wealthy, effective and vibranting society".