Feb 26, 2022

Has a public servant ever asked you for a bribe? How does Indian law tackle corruption?

The Supreme Court has temporarily suspended a Karnataka High Court order upholding a corruption complaint against Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa. The case was initiated through a complaint filed by a private investor alleging corruption in a housing project proposal for middle and low – income groups in Bengaluru.


Who can  be punished for corruption?

The anti-corruption law punishes public servants who commit acts of corruption, and anyone who offers a bribe to a public servant.

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. 
  • Chairperson, 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; or
  • 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 are the punishments under the law?

The punishment for public servants found guilty of accepting bribes is jail time for three to seven years, along with a fine.


The punishment for bribing a public servant is jail time for up to seven years and/or a fine. 

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