Feb 24, 2022

Did You Know: Proof of the demand for a bribe is necessary to convict corrupt officials

The Supreme Court has said that to hold a public servant guilty of corruption, it is not enough if tainted currency notes are recovered from their possession. There needs to be proof that the public servant demanded a bribe. Without such proof of demand, the public servant cannot be held guilty of using corrupt or illegal means.


Who can  be punished for corruption?

The anti-corruption law punishes public servants who commit acts of corruption. A ‘public servant’ can include:


  • Any person who is in the service or pay of the Government.
  • Any Judge or arbitrator.
  • Election officials who prepare election rolls or conduct elections.
  • Vice-Chancellor of a University.
  • President, secretary or other office-bearer of a registered co-operative society engaged in agriculture, industry, trade or banking, receiving financial aid from the Government. 
  • Chairman, member or employee of any Service Commission or Board, or a member of any selection committee appointed by such Commission or Board for conducting an examination or making a selection.


What are acts of corruption?

The law punishes any public servant who accepts an undue advantage (bribe) in order to perform a public duty. An undue advantage (bribe) can be anything other than the public servant’s legally authorized payments (for example, asking for payment of government fees is not a corrupt act). The bribe can also be something other than the payment of money, like helping with school admission of their children.


The law punishes any public servant who:

  • intentionally accepts or tries to get a bribe, to perform their public duty improperly/dishonestly;
  • intentionally accepts or tries to get a bribe as a reward for dishonestly performing a public duty, or for not performing such a duty;
  • dishonestly performs their public duty hoping to get a bribe.


What if the public servant is doing a favour for someone else?

The punishment is applicable for all situations where a public servant tries to get any bribe, whether for themselves or for another person. They can try to get this bribe by abusing their position, by using personal influence over another public servant, or through other corrupt/illegal methods. It does not matter whether the public servant accepts the bribe directly or through a third party.


What is the punishment for corrupt officials?

Public servants who are found guilty of accepting bribes can be punished with imprisonment for at least three years, which may extend to seven years. They will also have to pay a fine.

To know more about the anti-corruption law, read our explainer.