This article is written by T.PREETHI, student of government law college, Tirunelveli. This describes the concept of socio economic crimes and its nature and the extent of it. It also tells about the types and causes of the crime.


The concepts of crime or offences are prevailing in this society for a notably long period. The link between crimes and currency has been in existence since ages. The idea of crimes being caused by poverty, psychopathic deviations, slum neighboring and miserable family conditions have been proved wrong with the new theories. Now a day the most powerful groups secured immunity by the benefit of business or profession.   

What are Offences?

Offences in general are illegal actions that results when someone breaches the law. It is classified into two major categories.

  • Conventional offence and
  • Non conventional offence
  • Conventional offences can be described as offences that do have mens rea. For example: murder, theft, rape etc. while;
  • An unconventional offence doesn’t have any mens rea (guilty intentions). For example: white collar crimes, socio economic offences, organized crimes.

All the traditional or conventional crimes are more common and are dealt with the general laws of crimes. But the case with socio economic crimes are different, the name itself suggest that, it’s a combination of social and economic crimes.

Social crimes are crimes that affect the health and the morals of the public and economic crimes are offences that affect the economy of a country. They are dealt with special laws of crimes.

Socio Economic Crimes/ Offences

The criminal acts with the benefits of business or profession is referred as socio economic offences. When an offence is committed by highly influential and might people of the society it is referred as white color crimes. These offences bring traumatic threat to the survival of social order. These crimes go against the economy and interest and are also committed with no guilty intentions where the offender tries to increase his personal gain regardless of the consequences of the society. They are dealt with special laws of crimes in order to tackle the problem, it became acute and then chronic. In this the concept of mens rea was diluted, said to be minimal or declared as nonexistent. 



The motivation of the criminal is basically acquisitiveness or mercenary.


Unlike the conventional crimes, these crimes don’t have any emotional grounds. There isn’t any emotional reaction between the offender and the victim.

Mode of operation

What the offender does is considered as a fraud and not force


These crimes are committed intentionally and willfully

Interest protected in two fold

  • Social interest in the preservation of
  1. The property, wealth or health of individuals and national resources.
  2. The economy as a whole
  • Social interest in augmentation of the resource of the country by enforcing laws, relating to taxes, duties, foreign exchanges, foreign commerce, industries etc

The most cardinal feature is that, these offences don’t have a direct individual victim, rather a whole society. The element of immediate and direct impact, is absent in these types of offences.

Offences under Socio Economic Offences

Following are the offences that are classed as socio economic offences.

  • Any act that prevent the growth of the country and jeopardize the economic health
  • Public servants misusing their positions
  • Evasions or circumvention of taxes
  • Breaching of contracts where, the output results in delivery of goods against specifications.
  • Black marketing and cacheing
  • Adulterating food and drugs
  • Thieving and misappropriation of public properties and funds
  • Trafficking in matters of licenses, permits etc

Many a times the term “white collar crimes” is used as synonym for socio economic offences, but socio economic offences are much more than that. White collar crimes are also a part of socio economic offences where they are categorized as a separate criminal offence under the tag “crime by upper class of the society”.

A big corporate guilty for fraudulent tax evasion and a workmen submitting false returns of income are not different. In the end either of the acts obstructs the economic growth of the country, but the former one is classified as white collar crimes because of it status.

Roots of Socio Economic Offences

Following are some of the reasons for the rise of socio economic offences

  • Industrial revolution

When the economies evolved from agricultural based countries to industry based, that’s when the crimes did evolve largely from conventional ones to non conventional ones.

  • World war 2

Post war, the conditions of most of the countries were miserable and people started adapting to the change in the working of the society considering it as a new normal, which paved way for the emergence of the new offences.

  • Businesses

As the economies were in the industrialization phase, new businesses came up, the extreme competitive edge between the business to surpass the other and stay in the first or top made every one desire to adapt to any mean, which will fulfill their need.

Laws Dealing with Socio Economic Offences

To conduct a penal proceeding on the criminal “n” number of acts were framed. These acts also give direction for channelizing activities of trade, commerce, contracts etc.

  1. The central excises and salt act,1944
  2. The foreign exchange regulation act,1947
  3. The prevention of food adulteration act,1954
  4. The essential commodities act,1955
  5. The wealth tax act, 1957
  6. The income tax act,1961
  7. The custom act,1962
  8. The gold control act,1968

Other relevant acts are

  • Imports and exports (control) act,1947
  • The drugs act
  • CrPC
  • IPC
  • The passport act
  • The criminal law amendment act,1952

Current Scenario

With increasing technological advancement and development, there is an increase in advanced malpractices. These practices have advanced in proportion to the advancement and development in the present state. The awareness that people has on conventional crimes and the urge to eradicate them is lacking when it comes to un-conventional crimes.

This lack of awareness set the scene for socio-economic crimes to slowly feed on the resources. A collective effort and proper awareness will only help in preventing the offences. Moreover the role of legislative and judiciary is also important. It should more actively involved in addressing socio economic crimes. In that way also they can spread awareness among the people about the offences of this nature. Judiciary should be more careful in using legal principles, policies and precedents while dealing with these types of crimes.

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