This article is written by Bhavna Arul, a fourth-year law student from Symbiosis Law School.


In the 21st century, the word corruption has become a part of our daily lingo. The issue of corruption has affected nations around the world and as of today, it has become a political tool used by parties during elections and a medium for minting money for the media. The causes of corruption in India include excessive regulations, complicated tax and licensing systems, numerous government departments with opaque bureaucracy and discretionary powers, monopoly of government-controlled institutions on certain goods and services delivery, and the lack of transparent laws and processes. India gained its independence from the British in the year 1947, and corruption has been a part of the Indian Government since then. Historically, corruption in India started as a result of menial pay to Indian bureaucrats during the pre-independence era coupled with poor economic growth and hyperinflation during the initial years of independence. Corruption has since then been a major threat to India’s social, economic and political growth. Despite being an issue of public importance for over 50 years, the government has failed to take up any effective measure to curb corruption. 

What is corruption?

Corruption can be defined as the act of fraudulent conduct by a person of power for personal benefit. It can include activities like bribery, embezzlement of funds, tax frauds, unethical enforcement of power, etc. Today corruption can be found in almost all organizations, however, it becomes a matter of serious concern when it comes to corruption in the government. Corruption hampers the very foundation of good governance. A corrupt political system would lack transparency, accountability and efficiency. The principles of rule of law and separation of powers would be disregarded in a corrupt political system. Corruption is a major threat to democracy. India constitutionally is recognized as a welfare state, however, high corruption levels have hindered this concept and citizens are unable to reap the benefits or see the full potential of such welfare programs introduced by the government. Corruption in the government has both, a direct and indirect impact on the socio-economic conditions of a country and is a direct infringement of socio-economic rights.

Effect of Corruption on Socio-Economic Rights

Socio-economic rights include all factors such as quality education, minimum wages, good healthcare, better infrastructure, etc. The constitution talks about the importance of socio-economic rights in the Directive Principle of State Policies. In a developing country, citizens must be empowered with these rights and the government must take all measures to safeguard these rights. In an ideal welfare state country, the government introduces policies under various heads such as housing, education, health care, sanitation, etc. 

The DPSP’s were framed to act as a tool of guidance for good governance. It acts as a handbook to the legislative by highlighting major social issues that laws should be made on. It covers all socio-economic rights given to the citizens and highlights the duty of the government to make policies that safeguard these rights. India being a welfare state country, can hold the government solely responsible for poor implementation of socio-economic welfare programs that lead to the staggering economic and social growth of the nation. 

Corruption in the government leads to multiple socio-economic issues such as poor infrastructural development, suppressed media, increase in poverty, substandard health and education facilities, favouritism in jobs, etc. Ironically most of the effects of corruption are also the reason for corruption leading to an unbreakable vicious cycle of corruption that is getting worse over time and poisoning the fruits of democracy.  

Issues in the Current Methods of Fighting Corruption

There have been various methods and suggestions provided by the government to curb corruption. The most popularly known suggestion is the concept of having an ombudsman or a unanimous body keeping a check on the government officials. At the national level, this concept has failed due to the numerous occasions of rejecting the Lokpal Bill.  

A few states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, etc. have an established system of Lok Ayukta. However, many states are yet to implement Lok Ayukthas, and in those states that it has been implemented, the mechanism of the system is poor and has multiple loopholes. Most states also have an anti-corruption board which investigates and reports matters of corruption to the Chief Secretary of the State. The issue with this, however, is that the anti-corruption board and the Lok Ayuktas work separately and hence often have a clash with one another.

The 2016 note-ban was a brave but poorly coordinated move by the Indian government to reduce corruption. It strived on controlling black money and regulating corruption. This move seemed to have temporarily put a stop on corruption, however, it caused more economic panic amongst citizens and its effect on corruption soon wore out.  

The key reason India lags in terms of socio-economic justice is because of the lack of justiciable enforcement of DPSPs. Most cases relating to health and education are generally brought under the purview of A.21 of the Constitution- Right to Life and Personal Liberty. This narrows the scope of socio-economic rights when compared to those rights provided under the DPSPs and almost has no impact on reducing corruption.


India in 2020 has slipped down the Corruption Perception Index from the 78th rank in 2019 to the 80th rank in 2020. This indicates the ineffectiveness of the anti-corruption programs and policies, leading to higher corruption rates. With the new economic crisis India is facing in 2020 along with various natural disasters across the country, it is highly essential to bring about an immediate full stop to corruption. A couple of important reforms to curb corruption are as follows-

  1. A stricter RTI Act that has no scope for secrecy and increases transparency.
  2. One common, unanimous system for corruption checks that is uniformly applied throughout all states and at the central level.
  3. Give DPSP’s the same importance as Fundamental Rights in terms of enforceability. 

With the right implementation of these reforms, corruption in India will be drastically reduced, at least till new loopholes in the law are found.

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