Mar 11, 2022

Punishing a corrupt employee

The Supreme Court recently discussed the appropriate punishment for dealing with a corrupt employee. In its judgement, the Court stated that corruption is a serious offence which needs to be publicly discouraged. The Court said that corrupt employees can be appropriately punished with major penalties, such as dismissal from employment. In cases dealing with corrupt employees, dismissal from employment is a proportionate and acceptable punishment.

The law on corruption

In India, corruption-related matters are regulated by the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The Act punishes public servants who commit acts of corruption.

A ‘public servant’ can include:

  1. a) any person who is in the service or pay of the Government;
  2. b) any Judge;
  3. c) election officials who prepare election rolls or conduct elections;
  4. d) a Vice-Chancellor of a University.

Section 7 of the Act punishes any public servant who accepts an undue advantage (bribe) in order to perform a public duty. An undue advantage can be anything other than the public servant’s legally authorized payments. This undue advantage does not necessarily have to be a monetary payment.

The Act punishes:

(a) any public servant who intentionally accepts or tries to get an undue advantage, in order to perform his public duty improperly/dishonestly;

(b) any public servant who intentionally accepts or tries to get an undue advantage as a reward for dishonestly performing a public duty, or for not performing such a duty;

(c) any public servant who dishonestly performs his public duty in anticipation of getting an undue advantage.

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

Public servants who accept bribes in return for dishonestly performing their public duty can be punished with imprisonment for at least three years, which may extend to seven years. They will also have to pay a fine.

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