An overview of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

An Overview of prevention of corruption act, 1988


Today is the modern era. The modern era is the era of science and technology. The population is increasing with time. With the increasing population, the demands of people are increasing. Resources are limited that is why it is not possible to satisfy the demand of people. As a result to satisfy their demands people started to corrupt each other. For the prevention of this evil, there are various laws were made. Corruption is not only in India but it is spread all over the world. All countries are suffering from this wrong.

Now the question arises, What is corruption? The answer is quite simple that is The word corruption is originated from the Latin term “ Corrupts” That’s mean corrupted. The word corruption indicates dishonest or deceitful behaviour of the person who is possessing the power. It also includes government officials or other managers. Corruption can be happened by accepting or giving an inappropriate gift, under table payments, bribe, money laundering and black money etc. It is considered that India is one of the highly corrupted nations. Various examples can be seen for corruption in India like the 2G spectrum case, after that commonwealth scam in 2010 is one more example of corruption. The Parliament decided to make changes in the act by amending it. The main reason for increasing corruption is considered that giving bribe for the desire of illegal gains and greed of money. It will not be wrong to say that the way of illegal gains is known as black money or money laundering. And after gains by the illegal way people deposit it in the bank of other countries for purpose of earning money like in Swiss Bank or another such bank etc. Corruption is one of the big reason for halting the development of any nation. We need to prevent these corruptions for the development of a nation because it already proved one of the big barriers in the development of any nation.

The Prevention of Corruption Act

The prevention of corruption act came into effect on 9th September 1988. The prevention of corruption act applies to the whole of India and also including those citizens who are living outside the territory of India. It is considered that Parliament made this act to prevent corruption from the various government agencies and other public sectors. It is said that till 25 years after coming to this act there is no amendments were made. The main aim of this act is to remove or reduce corruption in India. In addition, the act also takes into consideration that that person who helped the offenders in committing the corruption, will also be liable in the same way as the corruption is done by themselves.  The prevention of corruption of act, 1988 includes 5 chapters and 31 provisions, And this act is applicable to the whole of India. Some chapters or sections of IPC also deals with misconduct or all the offence that is related with public servants. IPC stand for the Indian Penal Code, it came into force on 6 October 1860. Chapter 9 of IPC deals with all the offences relating to public servants. But this chapter doesn’t talk about misconduct and abuse of power by public servants. But section 161 to 165 of IPC deals with an offence relating to corruption that is committed by the public servant. After seeing various types of modes of conduct of corruption, the prevention of corruption act came into effect. After that Public servant’s Act, 1947 and was expanded in 1988 that clearly define all the terms and conditions including public servants and making the definition of various offences clear by the legislative. It is considered that on 26th July 2018, the definition of criminal misconduct came into effect. After 25 years of this act came into force, the amendment was made by parliament. The amendment was about the tightening up of the existing provision in this act and also about the expansion of coverage of offences. There are two most important definition in this act and these are the definition of:-

  • Public Duty
  • Public servant

Now we will discuss these two definition separately. It is considered that these words seem similar but have different meaning under this act.

  • Public Duty:- The word public duty indicates the duty that is dine for the benefit and welfare of the state and the public or the community at a large. Under this context the state refers to the:-
    1. A corporation that is established by or under a central, provincial or state act.
    2. An authority, a body owned and controlled or aided by the government company that is defined under section 617 of the companies Act, 1956.
  • Public Servant:- It is another unique term in the anti-corruption law and being the deciding factors at the threshold of one’s liability, depending on his being as a public servant. The word public servant was not defined under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 and the act adopted this definition from section 21 of the Indian Penal Code, The Prevention of Corruption of Act. 1988 provides a wide scope of this definition of the act itself as per section 2(c).

Silent Features of the Prevention of Corruption act

There are some silent features of this act. These features are given as below:-

  • The Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 incorporates with the prevention of corruption act 1947, the Indian Penal Code ( from Sec. 161 to 165-A) with certain changes in the original provisions, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1952.
  • It has also enlarged the scope of the definition like as Public Duty and Public Servant under Section 2, of this act.
  • It has also shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution that is mentioned in the CrPC and to the accused who is charged with the offence.
  • The provisions of the Act indicates that the investigation is to be made by an officer only but not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
  • The 1988 Act also enlarged the scope of the word ‘public servant’ which now includes employees of the central government, union territories, nationalized banks, employees of the University Grants Commission (UGC), vice-chancellors, professors, etc.
  • The Act defines ‘corrupt’ as the bribe, misappropriation, obtaining a pecuniary advantage by making an unlawful loss to another person who is pos­sessing assets and also disproportionate to income and like that.

Crimes Punishable under The Prevention on Corruption Act

Various crimes are punishable under this act. We will discuss some of the main offences that are punishable under this act. These offences are given as below:-

  • When any public servant found either accepting money, gifts and bribe during his/ her office hours or the course of his duty then it will be considered an offence under this act and will also be punished as per this act.
  • If any individual aiding the public servent in committing any offence then it will be considered as a crime and will be punished.
  • When an individual gives or accepts gifts or bribe to influence the public servant by his connection and by illegal method or corruption. This will amount to offence and the person who is influencing will also be punished.
  • When any public servant found in charge of committing any criminal misconduct or wrong then it will be a punishable offence under this act.

Relevant case laws

Various case laws indicate or reflect the provision of  The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Some of these cases are given as below:-.

  1. In the case, CBI, Bank Securities & Fraud Cell v. Ramesh Gelli and Others (Writ Petition (CRL.) NO. 167 OF 2015 ). In this case, the issue was that what types of bodies will come under the definition of Public Servant. The Apex Court here held in the case that the officers of private banks come under the definition of public servants as per the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. And the court also said that the main objectives of this Act are to make anti-corruption law more and more effective thereby it can widen its coverage.
  2. In the case, Manzoor Ali v. Union of India. In this case, the issue was about the validity of Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. In this case, the court held that the sanction of the prosecution in a corruption case is not unconstitutional but it is a mere possibility of abuse that cannot be a ground to declare the entire provision as unconstitutional.
  3. In the case, Aiyappa v. Anil Kumar ((2013) 10 SCC 705). The issue of this case was about the objective of the provisions of this Act. The court held that the main objective of this act is to protect the innocent public servant from unwarranted and mala fide prosecution.
  4. We can take another case law that is about the 2G Spectrum, it was one of the most important landmark cases under this Act, wherein,  telecom spectrum was allotted by the UPA government at throwaway prices by corruption and illegal ways. The acts will not violate the provisions of Public Duty that is clearly mentioned under the Prevention of Corruption Act and therefore charges were made against the concerned people. A special CBI court was set for trial that was on 21st December 2017 and it acquitted all the persons.


After seeing the entire concept of The Prevention of Corruption of Act, 1988, I would like to conclude that The prevention of corruption act is one of the most important legislation to fight corruption. But It will not be wrong to say that the statute alone can not do anything itself and never win this war against corruption. For this, it is also necessary that the performance of our legislators which would give an upper hand to curb this evil. It is also important to know that nothing is in this universe that could be perfect and cannot be changed in any way. With the recent amendments it likes that it is facing rants from legal luminaries, but this should be avoided and also the legislators should strive to find out the lack that what is the main root cause of this evil and should make it as perfect as possible can.

It will not be wrong to say that This Act has been drafted beautifully but the sole and major concern is that the huge power has been vested in the hands of the Central and State Government. The act will become powerful after the proper implementation to curb corruption from the grass root-level. But the act or legislation can not do anything itself, we all have to take a pledge that we will not accept and give the bribe and illegal gift and will also help the government to erase this evil and make the nation corruption-free.

Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur

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