Corruption is considered as a major evil in Indian society. It is the issues
which effects the economy of our country. It is one of the reasons why black
money is so prevalent in our country. Corruption not only affected the economic
condition but it also played a vital role in affecting the development of the
country. A study conducted by Transparency International in 2005 recorded that
more than 62% of Indians had at some point or another paid a bribe to a public
official to get a job done.
In 2008, another report showed that about 50% of Indians had first-hand
experience of paying bribes or using contacts to get services performed by
public offices, however, in 2019 their Corruption Perceptions
Index ranked the country 80th place out of 180, reflecting steady decline in
perception of corruption among people.
Corruption is also seen in Indian legal system. Starting from filing a case to
the decision on the case corruption has its deep routes at every stage. The
report of Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer 2013 says
that 45 percent of surveyed households in India considered judiciary to be
or extremely corrupt
and 36 percent of households who had
contact with the judiciary in 2012 reported to have paid a bribe.
Because of corruption people lost their faith in the system which provides
justice. According to the latest data (November 2019) 59,867 cases are pending
in Supreme court, 44.75 lakh cases in high courts and at the district and
subordinate level 3.14 crore cases are pending.
Corruption in the judiciary has increased with bribes being demanded to get the
next hearing date of choice and to attain a copy of the order.The total
amount of bribe estimated to have been paid in one year across India is Rs 534
crore, says CMS (India corruption study, 2018)
An estimate (data collection from courts across 13 states) reveals that Rs 220
crore was paid to get a suitable date for a hearing and Rs 314 was paid as a
bribe to attain a copy of the order. Experts from the judicial field say one
of the main reasons for corruption in the judiciary is huge pendency of cases in
Corruption in Indian legal system includes all phases of wrong influence which
may impartially harm the legal system. The wrong influencers in this system may
be lawyers, administrative staff etc. Corruption is not only a matter of
relations between the judges and court users but also in internal judiciary for
example a judge of high court can call the judge of sub ordinate court and can
influence him/her not only this the judges of the same court can also influence
each other for giving the decision in favour of a particular party. However, it
is not necessary that the gain should be in the form of material even it may be
in the form of professional favour, political favour or sexual favour.
Corruption has engulfed judiciary at all levels and everyone started accepting
this fact now litigants has cleared it in their minds that every time they visit
the court, they have to pay bribery even for the smallest favour. Corruption has
been a part of our society since a very long time but it is spreading with a
very high speed in legal system. A person going to the police station for filing
a FIR is also expected to pay some amount for filing the report.
Some major reasons of corruption in this field is delay of justice due to lack
of judicial officers in our country, poor implementation of laws i.e. laws
related to corruption are not very strict and strict actions are not taken
against this crime, people have no redressal mechanism excepting paying bribes.
It is also known that there is no mechanism to check the working of legislature,
ministers and bureaucrats for their actions which is a major reason of
continuous spread of corruption. Judges have no fear their biased and partial
acts and there is no answerability for their decisions such discretionary power
of judges leads to increase in corruption in our country.
In this matter the judges say that they are harassed due to over work and they
also think that they are under paid. There are petty cases and, in some cases,
counsels are interest ed in delay rather than judgement.
A senior session judge once stated that how can a judge, after a morning of
long list of bails, hear witnesses, record their evidence in another fifty odd
cases. Innocent people are also responsible for increasing corruption as they
are always interested in paying bribery to get the decisions in their favour.
Delay in justice can also help the criminal to get sufficient time to manipulate
the witnesses and to destroy the evidences by giving bribe to the witnesses.
Delay in justice without any justified reason disturbs the whole functions of
judiciary and further leads to the formation of injustice. The ineffective
actions, slow trials, improper investigation and outdated laws, lack of
implementation of laws and complex procedure of courts are the major reason of
increasing corruption in Indian legal system.
Corruption is the misuse of entrusted power for personal gain. In the
presence of corruption in Indian legal system the citizen neither afford their
democratic right of equal access to courts and nor do the court treat them
equally. The merits of cases and applicable laws are not paramount of corrupt
Indian corruption study, 2005, Volume 1 (Eleven public services) Corruption in
Judiciary, by Centre for Media Studies, made a scientific study of the
possibility of corruption at different levels in judicial hierarchy which rated
that more than 33% of the people bribed judiciary to the extent of Rs. 3817
crores in just one year. In the year of 2000 a Chief Justice of India was
accused of using his position to force the lower judiciary to hold in favour of
his wife and mother-in-law in a case. In the year of 2002-2003 case like sex for
acquittal and cash for job come to notice.
Causes for corruption in Indian legal system
There is a huge number of cases pending in Indian courts. The number of cases
pending in the country is in millions and it can take 20 years for a decision.
Inaccessibility: judicial system has become costly, delaying and out of the
access of poor people and common citizens of the country. Public is losing their
trust in judiciary due to delayed results of cases, partial and biased
decisions. The court’s proceeding is out of understanding of laymen due to which
dishonest advocates take advantage of laymen and make money from them.
Misuse of power: judges offer a exchange for personal gain in some cases. In
Rajasthan, there were reports of a judge who offered judicial favour in exchange
for sexual favours from a litigant. Some of these instances have been reported
by the media, but no action has resulted.
A difficult impeachment process: FIR cannot be lodged against a judge and
criminal investigation cannot be initiated without prior consent of the CJI.
Appointed judge of the high court and supreme court cannot be removed from his
office expect by complicated impeachment process. In the case of 1990s, Justice
V Ramaswami, when the Congress was in power, a motion seeking to impeach Justice
V Ramaswami could not be passed by parliament as Congress members of parliament
abstained from voting. There have been no other attempts at impeachment in
Article 124(4) of the constitution of India makes it clear that a judge of the
Supreme Court cannot be removed from his office except by an order of the
President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a
majority of the total membership of that House present and voting has been
presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of
proved misbehaviour or incapacity. Proceeding for impeachment of a judge of
the Supreme Court are of judicial nature. Abstention from voting in the House on
the motion of impeachment against a judge of the Supreme Court cannot be deemed
to be vote in support of the motion.
Delay of justice: Delay in justice can also help the criminal to get sufficient
time to manipulate the witnesses and to destroy the evidences by giving bribe to
the witnesses. Delay in justice without any justified reason disturbs the whole
functions of judiciary and further leads to the formation of injustice.
Why people pay bribes
Bribery is common in the judicial system. Transparency International Report 2012
said that the most common reason for giving bribe in India in general is to
speed things up
The large amount of money becomes the need for the disposal of the case without
any certainty of success. Court process is too expensive, even it is out of the
access of the poor and depressed people. Judiciary adjudicates the cases against
the state and central government which are filed by the aggrieved people of
India. The judicial system of India now a days become a subject of criticism
due to interruption in the policy of government beyond its jurisdiction. This
creativity of judiciary is called judicial activism.
In India, the number of judges is approximately 13 or 14 judges per one million
people in India. The Supreme Court in All India Judges' Association and
others v. Union of India and others
, directed the government to increase
the number of judges from the existing 10.5 judges per million to 50 judges per
million. But this directive has not yet been fully implemented due to a lack
of infrastructure, including the number of judges and facilities of judges to
, as well as a lack of cooperation and funding from provincial
government. The large number of pending cases is suffocating the system
which in turn promotes corrupt practices
The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) states that the judiciary, lacking
governmental support to address the backlog of cases, is incapable of
. The lack of awareness of the people of India also
makes judiciary compel to take action against the arbitrary decisions of the
governmental authorities. As the people of India are still having regards
towards the judiciary in spite shortage of the courts and the sheer number of
There is a high number of vacancies in the judiciary. According to Indian
Currents, only 14,295 of 17,945 judge positions are occupied. India Today
said that nearly 32 percent of judge positions are vacant in the High Court.
The amounting arrears of cases, increasing population, less awareness of public
of India about their legal rights have also been the major causes of failure of
justice. Judiciary therefore should be independent, transparent and accountable.
If there would be any mechanism to check the delay in disposal of the cases, it
will certainly increase the reputation and respect of the judiciary in the eye
of the classes of India. Judiciary should be enthusiasm to provide speedy
justice to the poor and depressed people of India. Even the judiciary is the
safeguard of the fundamental rights of the people of India.
Some cases of corruption in Indian legal system
Corruption has decayed the whole system of governance in India. No organ is
relinquished from this menace and the legal system is no exception to it.
In 1949: Justice Sinha was found of "guilty of improper exercise of judicial
functions, the cumulative effect of which was to lower the dignity of his office
and undermine the confidence of the public in the administration of justice.
A.M. Bhattacharjee, the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court
was forced to resign in 1995 after it was found that he had received Rs.70
lakh as book advance from a publishing firm known to have links with the
In 2000 Justice A.S. Anand:
- He was accused of using his position to get the subordinate judiciary to
rule in favour of his wife and mother-in-law in a suit that had been barred
by limitation for two decades.
- Supreme Court, while he was Chief Justice of India, directed a CBI probe
after a dispute arose over his age in 2000. The investigation report was not
made public. This arose due to scan copy published in Ram Jethmalani's Big
Egos, small men.
Three Judges Mysore Sex Scandal: November 3, 2002, three judges of the
Karnataka High Court, along with two women advocates, allegedly got involved in
a brawl with a woman guest at a resort. The police arrived but reportedly didn't
take action. Judges are N.S. Veerabhadraiah, V. Gopalagowda & Chandrashekaraiah
Justice Soumitra Sen of Calcutta High Court: He was charged with the allegations
of misappropriation of large sums of money, which he had received in his
capacity as Receiver appointed by the High Court of Calcutta. He also
misappropriated the facts relating to the investigation.
Justice Nirmal Yadav of Uttarakhand High Court (former judge Punjab and Haryana
High Court): Accused in the Rs 15Lakh cash-at-door-scam Provident fund scam:
one of the biggest judicial scams in the history. More than 15 Judges of
Ghaziabad court and also few of them from High Court are charged with
embezzlement of more than Rs. 7 crores.
Justice Mehtab Singh Gill: He figures in the tapes released by the Punjab
Vigilance Bureau in June 2009. Accused to taking payments for fixing
judgments. These are only some of the reported cases of corruption in
judiciary, many of them still goes unreported. The main reason for this is the
sword of contempt, through which judiciary has got unbridled authority without
any accountability towards it.
Legislative Efforts to Combat Corruption in Indian legal system
Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (POCA): the main nudge is to prohibit public
servants from accepting illegal appeasement in the discharge of their official
functions. Bribe givers and intermediaries can also be held liable POCA for
giving bribes to public officials. Prosecution under POCA requires prior
approval of high authorities which severely limits its usefulness particularly
where there is collusive activity within government branches.
Right to information act, 2005: it represents one of the country’s most critical
achievements in the fight against corruption. The Right to Information Act, may
be a best tool for an accountable and transparent judiciary by checking the
power. Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen may request information from
a "public authority" which is required to reply within 30 days. The Act also
requires every public authority to computerize its records for wide
dissemination and to proactively publish certain categories of information for
easy citizen access. This act provides citizens with a mechanism to control
public spending. Many anti-corruption activists have been using the RTI to
Restatement of Values of Judicial Life: Code of Conduct:Some of codes that must be followed judges are:
- Judges should not conduct election to any office of club, society or
- A judge should not hear and decide a matter in which a member of his
family, a close relation or a friend is concerned.
- A judge should not speculate in shares, stocks or the like.
Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968: The object of this Act is to regulate the procedure
for the investigation and proof of the misbehaviour or incapacity of a judge of
the Supreme Court or of a High Court. Section 3 of the Judges Act is
relevant for this purpose. It provides procedure for investigation into
misbehaviour or incapacity of judge by Committee.
98th Constitution Amendment Bill: National Judicial Commission: The Commission
would make recommendation for appointment of judges in higher judiciary and
transfer of High Courts judge, and thus, provide an institutionalized mechanism
for appointment and transfer of judges in higher judiciary.
made by the Commission for appointment and transfer of judges in higher
judiciary would be binding on the President, and this would reduce chances of
friction between the executive and the Commission. This Commission would draw a
code of ethics for judges in higher judiciary. It would be empowered to conduct
inquiries in case of misconduct and deviant behaviour of a judge, either on the
basis of complaints made. This Commission would help ushering in judicial
Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill 2010: it tries to lay down
enforceable standards of conduct for judges. It also requires judges to declare
details of their and their family members' assets and liabilities. This Bill
creates mechanisms to allow any person to complain against judges on grounds of
misbehaviour or incapacity.
Some of the suggested solutions to combat corruption
- Technology: A review of how court records are handled and the
introduction of modern tracking methods can eliminate much of petty
corruption existing in lower courts.
- Internet can explain basic law to laymen.
- Court files can be computerized.
- Video recordings of court proceedings should be maintained.
- Increase in number of Mediation courts for dispute redressal: This will
provide alternative method to dispute redressal to lighten burden on courts.
- Increase number of judicial officers and number of fast track
- Create a vigilance cell for redressal of public grievances.
- Making judiciary accountable: Judges must be subject to judicial review
- Judges must follow a code of conduct.
- Bar associations must act against corrupt members.
- A public body must keep an eye on the judicial system.
- An Indian judicial service must be created.
- The proposed National Judicial Commission should have powers to fire
- Judges should declare their assets and those of their family.
- India Corruption Study 2005: To Improve Governance: Volume I – Key
Highlights New Delhi" (PDF). Transparency International India. 30 June 2005.
- India Corruption Study – 2008" (PDF). Transparency International. 2008.
- Corruption Perception Index 2019". Retrieved 23 January2020.
- J.S. Verma, New Dimension of Justice, (2000)
- Corruption in the Indian Judiciary, http://www.sabhlokcity.com/2010/01/corruption-in-the-indianjudiciary/
[Access on 18 Jan 2011 at 5:09PM]
- Lily Thomas v. Speaker, Lok Sabha (1993) 4 SCC 23.
- Transparency International Report 2011, 2012
- Preeti Anand, Challenge to the Judiciary in the 21st Century. All India
Reporter, (2011) Vol. 98: Part 1169
- Outlook 9 July 2012
- 1992 AIR 165; 1991 SCR Supl. (2) 206
- See Report of AHRC 21 Jan. 2013 available at India: Independence of and
corruption within the judicial system, including the scale of corruption at
different levels (2009-April 2013), http://www.refworld.org/docid/51ab45674.html.
- Indian Currents, A Weekly News Magazine, New Delhi, 10th March 2013.
- 5 India: Independence of and corruption within the judicial system,
including the scale of corruption at different levels (2009-April 2013),
- Outlook 9th July 2012
- India Today, Magazine 29 Aug. 2011
- Supra 24.
- 2 http://www.livemint.com/r/livemint/Period1/oldpdf/8f771b83- Political
- Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988
- Restatement of Values of Judicial Life (Adopted by Full Bench of Supreme
Court on May 7, 1997). http://www.judicialreforms.org/files/restatement_of_values
- Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968.
- 98th Constitution Amendment Bill.