Most corrupt are roaming scot-free, indicates official crime data
Although corruption touches every section of the Indian society, there are very few complaints made against bribery or corrupt people. How can one explain this contradiction? Is it the case that the laws relating to corruption are so weak and toothless in our country that people seldom rely on them to get justice?
Recent research based on data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) confirms the above-mentioned fact. Please click here to access.
According to a study done by the Delhi-based NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), only 54,139 number of cases of corruption were registered across 29 states and 7 Union Territories (UTs) during the last 15 years i.e. in the period 2001-2015. However, this official figure on corruption cases registered spanning 15 years is lesser than half the number of reports made by people (through self-confession) on a popular website about paying bribes.
As per the website http://ipaidabribe.com/, nearly 1,16,010 number of incidents about paying bribes to public officials for getting services were reported between 2001 and 2015.
Based on analysis of 15 years of corruption-specific data, it has been found by CHRI that the rate of conviction is quite low in bribery-related cases. Between 2001 and 2015, for every 100 corruption cases registered roughly 19 ended in conviction on an average.
CHRI's analysis shows that during 2001-2015, trials involving 43,394 individuals (involved in corruption) were completed across 28 states (excluding Himachal Pradesh) and 7 UTs. However, almost 68.19 percent (29,591) of the accused were acquitted by the courts during this 15-year time period (excluding Himachal Pradesh). In other words, only 31.81 percent (13,803) of the accused were found guilty by the courts.
In states like Goa, Manipur and Tripura the acquittals were 100 percent. All the 30 accused were acquitted by the courts in these states.
Between 2001 and 2015, the ratio of persons convicted to persons in whose cases trial got completed were higher in Nagaland (more than 90 percent) and Assam (around 70 percent) vis-à-vis other states and UTs.
While 54,139 cases were registered across the 29 states and seven UTs (irrespective of the outcome), trial was completed in 55.26 percent (29,920 cases). In the rest of the cases, the accused were either discharged or the FIR was quashed or the case was simply not put up for trial or the trial was still going on.
Most Indians agree that corruption exists among the bureaucracy and administration. According to Transparency International (TI), India ranked 76th among 168 nations in terms of Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in 2015. In fact, countries like Bhutan (27), Chile (23), Ghana (56), Jordan (45), Namibia (45), Panama (72), Rwanda (44), Saudi Arabia (48), Senegal (61), Seychelles (40), South Africa (61) and Uruguay (21) have scored far better than India on TI’s CPI.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have been arguing that the government has not taken enough steps to strengthen current legislations to fight against corruption. The amendments proposed in 2013 to the Prevention of Corruption Act (1988) is still awaiting its approval by the Parliament. CSOs have alleged that the government wants to make changes to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (2013) even before implementing the same. Civil rights activists are unhappy with the government's lukewarm attitude towards Grievance Redressal legislation and Whistle Blower Protection legislation.
The preliminary findings of the study done by CHRI based on corruption-specific data from NCRB are as follows:
* As per the NCRB data, between 2001 and 2015 a total of 54,139 cases were registered across the 29 states and 7 Union Territories (UTs). During this period, people filed more than double that number (1,16,010) of reports about being required to pay bribes, on the popular website - I Paid a Bribe;
* Between 2001 and 2015, the NCRB reported the registration of a little more than 5 lakh cases of murder (5,01,852 cases) across the 29 states and 7 UTs. In comparison, only 54,139 cases of corruption were registered during the same period. In other words, for ten murders registered, only one case of corruption was registered across the country;
* During this 15-year period, the NCRB reported the registration of 5.87 lakh cases (5,87,347 cases) of kidnapping or abduction across the country. In other words, for 11 kidnappings or abductions registered across the country, only one case of corruption was registered by the law enforcement authorities;
* Between 2001 and 2015, the NCRB reported the registration of 3.54 lakh cases of robbery across the country (3,54,453 cases). In other words, for a little more than 6 robberies registered, only one case of corruption was registered by the law enforcement agencies;
* While 54,139 cases registered across the 29 states and 7 UTs (irrespective of the outcome) trial was completed in 55.26 percent (29,920 cases). In other cases the accused were discharged or the FIR was quashed or the case was simply not put up for trial or the trial was still going on;
* Kerala clocked the highest conviction rate among states that registered a large number of cases as a proportion of cases sent up for trial at 62.95 percent;
* Despite several cases going up for trial no convictions have been reported from states such as West Bengal, Goa, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalaya by the NCRB. In Manipur only one case is said to have reached conviction during this 15-year period;
* Between 2001 and 2015, trials involving 43,394 individuals were completed across the 28 states (excluding Himachal Pradesh and seven UTs. 68.19 percent (29,591) of the accused were acquitted by courts during this 15-year period (excluding Himachal Pradesh). In other words, only 31.81 percent (13,803) of the accused were found guilty by courts;
* In states like Goa, Manipur and Tripura the acquittals were 100 percent. All 30 accused were acquitted by courts in these states. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands the trial was completed in relation to one accused during this 15-year period resulting in acquittal;
* Nagaland is the only state that bucked this trend with convictions of more than 90 percent of the accused. In all, 438 accused were convicted. Of these, 404 were convicted in 2014. In Assam also, convictions were much high (70 percent), despite fewer cases going up to and completing trial;
* Almost 90 percent of the accused were acquitted in Jammu and Kashmir;
Fact and Fiction: Government’s Efforts to Combat Corruption: CHRI’s Preliminary findings from a study of NCRB’s Statistics (2001 to 2015), please click here to access
India's war against corruption lacks any 'conviction': Study -Himanshi Dhawan, The Times of India, 18 December, 2016, please click here to access
'Only 19% of registered corruption cases end in conviction', PTI/ The Economic Times, 17 December, 2016, please click here to access
Performance of anti-corruption departments and courts in India has received cursory attention -Venkatesh Nayak, 17 December, 2016, please click here to access
Time to blow the whistle -Yogendra Yadav, The Hindu, 12 December, 2016, please click here to access
Betrayal In The House -Anjali Bhardwaj & Amrita Johri, The Indian Express, 4 August, 2016, please click here to access
Image Courtesy: Inclusive Media for Change / Shambhu Ghatak