Chai paani, convenience fee, sweets, under the table are some of the phrases we hear often in India, especially while going to a government office. These phrases reach your ears and start digging a hole in your pocket. All these terms boil down to only one thing – bribery i.e. corruption. It compels the common man to take a walk on the wrong side.
Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes. Economic development is stunted because foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the “start-up costs” required because of this crime.
International Anti-Corruption Day
Today is International Anti-Corruption Day 2021. Governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, the media and citizens around the world are joining forces to fight this crime. The United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are at the forefront of these efforts. Long speeches are being made, and vows are being taken to put an end to this evil practice.
Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries. While it is everyone’s right to benefit from strong anti-corruption efforts, misconduct and wrongdoing is stealing away valuable resources at a time when they are most needed to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
The 2021 International Anti-Corruption Day seeks to highlight the rights and responsibilities of everyone – including States, Government officials, civil servants, law enforcement officers, media representatives, the private sector, civil society, academia, the public and youth – in tackling corruption.
And yet it is not only countries that need to unite and face this global problem with shared responsibility. Every single person – young and old – has a role to play to prevent and counter corruption, in order to promote resilience and integrity at all levels of society.
India is at present badly entangled in the web of corruption. The roots of corruption, bribery, evasion and forgery have become so strong in our own country that we have now started considering bribery an integral part of the “system”. It goes beyond monetary exchange. Turning away from one’s duty by swindling, misuse of official positions etc. are all forms of corruption. The result is that citizens have lost faith in the police, law and justice systems.
Role of citizens and private sector
As much as the government systems are responsible for it, citizens and private companies are also involved. Many a times, the common man accepts the illegitimate demand of officials to save the hassle and time. In this way, he encourages the practice. The same goes for corporations that choose profits over rules and regulations. But remember, both asking for a bribe and giving one is a crime.
So, what do you do if you fall prey? Most victims are unaware of where to lodge their complaints so that they can seek justice. Many cases of corruption do not come to the fore, so the confidence of those who commit this crime, increase.
Central Vigilance Commission
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is the apex body for complaints of corruption. It was constituted at the central level to crack down on this crime in particular. The CVC was set up by the Government in February 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by K. Santhanam, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance.
CVC are conceived to be the apex vigilance institution, free of control from any executive authority, monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government and advising various authorities in Central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilant work. Consequent upon promulgation of an Ordinance by the President, the Central Vigilance Commission has been made a multi member Commission with “statutory status” with effect from 25th August, 1998.
The CVC is empowered to inquire or cause inquiries to be conducted into offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 by certain categories of public servants of the Central Government, corporations established by or under any Central Act, Government Companies, societies and local authorities owned or controlled by Central Government. Categories of such public servants are as below:
a) Members of All-India Services serving in connection with the affairs of the Union and Group A officers of the Central Government
b) Officers of the rank of Scale V and above in the Public Sector Banks
c) Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers of E-8 and above in Schedule ‘A’ and ‘B’ Public Sector Undertakings
d) Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers of E-7 and above in Schedule ‘C’ and ‘D’ Public Sector Undertakings
e) Officers in Grade D and above in Reserve Bank of India, NABARD and SIDBI
f) Managers and above in General Insurance Companies
g) Senior Divisional Managers and above in Life Insurance Corporations
You can send your complaint by writing a letter to Vigilance Bhawan, A-Block GPO Complex, INA New Delhi- 110 023. Apart from this, you can share information about corruption by calling 011- 24651020. At the same time, complaints can also be made online by visiting their official website. The identity of the person reporting the corruption is kept secret.
Each state has a separate wing of law enforcement that traps complaints of corruption. Every state has an ACB (Anti-Corruption Bureau) or Anti-Corruption Cell. You can reach out to an Anti-Corruption Bureau with your complaint through a portal designated by the state or by making a written complaint. You can easily register your complaint through the ACB portal concerned to your region. You will also get to see updates on the solution to your complaint.
Every government department has its own vigilance department to fight corruption, so you can approach them too. If bribe is demanded from you in any government department, you can inform the HoD (head of the department) or contact anti-corruption branch or CVC.
A mountain of complaints
There are many complaints regarding corruption, but if the data is to be believed, then the complaints of corruption cannot stand in court. Take the cases in Maharashtra alone. According to the RTI, between 1 January 2019 and 5 October 2021, the ACB received a total of 6,213 complaints, but only 213 complaints were investigated and an FIR was registered for only one of them. It is clear that the ACB is failing to eradicate this evil. In such a situation, the question arises: How does one eliminate a practice which has spread like a virus through the entire system?