Corruption: One of the biggest problems the Indian Legal System faces

Author: Aanshu Reddy , a student at Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad.

Abstract:  Corruption is a pervasive and significant issue affecting the Indian Legal, Politics, and Administrative systems. Over the years, corruption has manifested in various forms, from petty bribery to a grand-scale scandal that shook the nation over time.The Indian Legal system, despite being one of the largest in the world, is often criticised for its inefficiencies and suspicion of corruption. Delays in the judiciary, influenced by corruption, can deny justice to the ones that need it the most. This has affected public trust and undermined the rule of law, making it challenging for the system to function effectively and fairly.In politics, corruption is alarmingly widespread. High-profile scandals, such as the 2G Spectrum case, the Commonwealth Games SCM, and The Vijay Mallya Scam,. etc. These scams involve colossal sums of money and have implicated many prominent politicians and bureaucrats, showcasing the various levels of corruption in governance.A few recent cases have been addressed in specific forms of corruption, such as bribery, such as the NEET 2024 Scandal and the Kejriwal Liqour bribery case, which will be discussed in this article.Efforts to eliminate corruption in India include legal reforms such as The Central Vigilance Commission(CVC), which supervises corruption in government bodies and CBI is also under its supervision. Lokpal, and initiatives promoting transparency such as the The Right to Information Act (RTI). Understanding the complex effect of corruption on India’s legal system it is crucial for devising effective strategies to combat it. 

This article explores various forms of corruption, notable cases, and the ongoing efforts to address this pervasive issue.

Corruption has long been a thorn in the side of India’s progress, infiltrating every level of its legal, political, and administrative systems. In his 76th Independence Day speech, the Prime Minister of India highlighted the twin problems of nepotism and corruption, stressing the urgent need to combat these pervasive issues. This article delves into the current state of corruption in India, explores the legal frameworks designed to combat it, and examines notable recent scandals.


According to the 2024 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), India ranks 93 out of 180 countries, in 2023 The overall score was 39 while in 2022 it was 40 which reflects a decade-long stagnation in its effort to control corruption. This stagnation is not new to India, as many countries have seen similar trends. The Central Vigilance (CVC) plays a pivotal role in creating a more transparent and accountable system. Established under the CVC Act of 2003, the commission aims to implement effective anti-corruption measures and prevent government servants from engaging in corrupt practices.

Legal Frameworks for Anti-corruption in India

  1. The Indian Penal Code (1860): Sections related to money laundering, fraud, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation.
  2. Prevention of Money Laundering Act (2002): Designed to prevent money laundering activities in India.
  3. Prevention of Corruption Act (1988): Provides penalties for public servants involved in corruption. Amended in 2018 to include punishment for bribe givers and takers.
  4. The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act (1988): Prevents individuals from claiming property under another person’s name to evade ownership responsibilities.

Other Regulatory Frameworks:

  1. Central Vigilance Commission Act (2003): Implements preventive measures to eliminate corruption among government servants.
  2. Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (2013): Acts as an “ombudsman” to investigate corruption claims against specific public servants and related issues.

However, corruption persists due to several underlying factors. Firstly, enforcing these laws is often weak and inconsistent, allowing corrupt individuals to evade justice. Judicial delays and bureaucratic inefficiencies further exacerbate the problem, making it difficult to prosecute and convict those involved in corruption. For instance, in the case of K.Shanthamma v. State of Telangana, The Supreme Court held that for a conviction under the Prevention of Corruption Act, both the demand for and acceptance of a bribe must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This stringent requirement can lead to acquittals if the prosecution’s evidence is insufficient, as seen when the accused in this case was acquitted due to a lack of clear evidence of bribe demand. Second, there is a cultural acceptance of corruption as a norm in many parts of India, where bribery and favouritism are seen as necessary evils to navigate the system. This social tolerance undermines efforts to eliminate corrupt practices. The Vijay Madanlal Choudhary v. Union of India case further exemplifies the judiciary’s attempts to tighten anti-corruption measures. The Supreme Court interpreted the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to include mere possession or involvement in deriving proceeds of crime as sufficient for prosecution, even without proving the property as untainted. This ruling aimed to prevent criminals from enjoying the fruits of their corrupt activities unchecked.

Additionally, political interference and lack of political will hinder the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures. High-profile cases often reveal the involvement of powerful politicians and bureaucrats, who can manipulate the system to their advantage. This erodes public trust in the legal and administrative systems, creating a vicious cycle where corruption flourishes despite legal deterrents. For example, in Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) V. Ramesh Gelli, the Supreme Court clarified that directors and managers of private banks could be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, recognizing their roles as equivalent to public servants when committing fraud or bribery. This expanded the scope of accountability but also highlighted the challenges of prosecuting high-level private-sector corruption.

In summary, while India has established a comprehensive array of legal frameworks to combat corruption, systemic weaknesses, cultural acceptance, and political interference allow corrupt practices to persist in every corner of the country. Addressing these root causes is essential for the effective implementation of anti-corrupt measures and the creation of a transparent, accountable governance system.


Despite these robust legal frameworks, corruption persists as a significant problem. Recent scandals highlight the ongoing issue:

  1. NEET Scandal (2024): Allegations of bribery and manipulation in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) involving several officials. There were serious allegations of paper leaks and scoring irregularities under investigation.
  1. Kejriwal Liquor Bribery Case (2024): Involvement of prominent figures in a bribery case related to liquor licenses. There were allegations of public officials accepting 1 billion rupees as bribes from liquor contractors.
  1. 2G Spectrum Case: In the political dispute known as the 2G Spectrum Case, the members of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government in India as well as private officials are accused of selling or granting 122 2g spectrum licences under terms that benefit particular telecom operators.
  1. Common Wealth Games Scam: It was one of the biggest frauds in the history of India with a whopping 70,000 crores in embezzlement. The Indian athletes were supposed to receive only half of the funds that were allotted.
  1. Vijay Mallya Scam: Vijay Mallya was a prominent businessman in India who was involved in the defrauding of multiple Indian banks of 1.1 billion dollars in loans after which he fled India in 2016.

Role of Media: Indian movies often depict and normalise the pervasive corruption in politics, reflecting the public’s awareness of these issues. Through cinematic storytelling, the harsh realities of corruption are brought to light, highlighting the struggles of ordinary citizens against the corrupt system.

Public Awareness and Fear: While citizens are aware of criminal activities by political leaders and government servants, fear of retaliation prevents them from acting against these powerful figures. Political leaders and government officials wield significant influence, instilling fear in the hearts and minds of citizens. This fear deters people from taking action against corruption, as they worry about potential repercussions on their lives.

Discrepancy in Lifestyles: The luxurious lifestyles of government officials and politicians, depsite their modest salaries, highlight the extent of corruption. This disparity is a visible sign of corruption and fuels public resentment.

The path to elimination: Strict enforcement of laws without favouritism, nepotism, or manipulation is essential. Robust and impartial application of anti-corruption measures is necessary to eradicate corruption.


Q.1) How to lodge a complaint against corruption?

A.) The person who has witnessed/experienced any kind of corruption or fraud can complain to the anti corruption bureau in person, via email, telephone, fax etc. 

Q.2) If we lodge a complaint, will it be anonymous?

A.) In most of the cases, the complainant will be anonymous but if it’s a trap case then the complainant has to file a report against the authority that they are complaining about  any illegal activities.

Q.3) What are the steps taken to prevent this corruption after the complaint? 

A.) Firstly, after a complaint is received the bureau usually conducts raids on the authority and they inform the higher officials if they are an officer of a specific authority to take action against the alleged officer. Secondly, departmental action will be taken against such an officer. Lastly, specific measures would be taken to control corruption.

Q.4) How can I complain after I catch a corrupt official red handed? 

A.) After witnessing such a crime, you can call an ACB officer in your nearby area or by meeting him to explain the details of the crime. The ACB officer will then take certain steps to catch the official in the act.

Q.5) If I lodge a complaint, is proof needed against the corrupt official?

A.) Before lodging a complain 


Corruption is a major challenge in India’s legal, political, and administrative systems. Despite robust legal frameworks like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act, enforcement remains inconsistent. High-profile scandals such as the 2G Spectrum case, the Commonwealth Games scam, the Vijay Mallya scam, the NEET Scandal of 2024, and the Kejriwal Liqour bribery case highlight the pervasiveness of corruption. Judicial delays and weak enforcement as seen in cases like Vijay Madanlal Choudhary v. UOI and K.Shanthamma v. State of Telangana impede justice. Cultural acceptance of bribery and political interference further exacerbate the issue, undermining public trust.

To combat corruption effectively, India must enforce laws strictly, promote accountability, and challenge societal norms that tolerate corruption. A concerted effort is essential to create a transparent and fair governance system.



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