The term White Collar Crimes (WCC) was propounded by a famous criminologist
and sociologist Edwin H. Sutherland in the year 1939. The idea behind this new
term was that - Necessity is not always the motive behind commission of a crime.
In other words, he wanted to categorize certain types of crimes that are
committed in a society without being any necessity for the criminal to commit
He defined WCC as such a crime that is - committed by a person of respectability
and high social status in the course of his occupation. He also included crimes
committed by corporations and other legal entities within his definition
Following are certain key features of a WCC:
1. It is basically a crime that is committed by salaried professional
workers or persons in business and usually involves a form of financial theft or
2. These crimes are non-violent crimes committed by business people through
deceptive activities who are able to access large amounts of money for the
purpose of financial gain.
3. They are committed by people who are involved in otherwise, lawful
businesses and cover a wide range of activities.
4. The perpetrators hold respectable positions in the communities unless
their crime is discovered and
5. The law relating to these crimes would depend upon the exact nature of
the crime committed.
In the research article, the researcher would be discussing about the various
psychological hurdles that are faced while prosecuting these white collar
Now, we will be discussing the various reasons or the various hurdles that are
faced while prosecuting these White Collar Criminals. There are certain problems
that are common to all the stages of a prosecution whereas there are certain
problems that are specific to one stage of a prosecution. For this, the
researcher has divided the problems on the basis of the various stages of a
prosecution and following are the stages:
1. Pre investigation
First of all, the researcher would be dealing with the problems that are common
to all the stages of prosecution.
Following are the common problems:
1. Criminals being part of the system:
These type of criminals are different from the traditional criminals. They are
part of the system or the group that is entrusted for making or implementing
laws relating to these WCC or are in close connection with these people.
Therefore, they are in a position to mould or shape the system that is
favourable to them. Hence, leading to favourable laws for them, lesser
punishments, delayed investigation or delayed trial etc.. Also, they are in a
position to influence the victims as well for non filing complaint by
threatening them of unwanted consequences.
2. Fear in the minds of the people, be it the victim, witnesses, the
investigating agency and everyone involved in the prosecution process:
In these WCC, the criminal belongs to the upper strata of the society, due to
which the people in general are in fear of saying or doing anything against
them. People here would include the victim while filing a complaint, the
witnesses investigated involved during the investigation, the investigating
agency and even the court has the fear of deciding against these people due to
the high status or repute of such criminals.
The fear sometimes is not limited to the victim but his family as well, due to
these circumstances a lot of white collar criminals are left unpunished.
3. Lack of awareness:
These WCC are committed within the strict letter of the law or at such level
that the common people are not even aware of the commission of such crimes. The
irony of the situation is that “the credibility of the victim is affected and he
is not even aware of it”. It is because they are not aware, a lot of cases are
not even filed against such criminals.
4. Legislative gridlock:
The WCC involve a huge amount of money and when the national economy is at
stake, politics very often play a role. With politicians divided as they
currently are, getting anything accomplished can be difficult. There is a lot of
back and forth between politicians about how to proceed with prosecuting such
crimes, how much of a role the government should play and what the penalties
should be. The result—resolution takes months, if not years because of the
Due to the non stricter laws, absence of any time deadlines for the
investigation and trial of the case. The Legal battles take years in punishing
the criminals and hence leading to diffusion of gravity of the offence with
6. Lesser impact on individual person:
The impact of white collar crimes is so much diffused in the community that the
individual victims are only marginally affected by it, and therefore they
conveniently forget all about it. Due to the lesser impact, people easily forget
about it and are not much concerned about what happen to the trial and the
criminal proving a room for the criminal to escape.
7. The prevailing HONESTY in the system:
This is also one of the major factors that lead to the unpunished White Collar
Criminal. The Indian system is not at all honest and can be bribed very easily
and the criminal can make everything in his favour. He can bribe the witnesses,
the investigating agency or even the prosecuting agency, in such a scenario, it
is very difficult for punishing such criminals.
Now, the researcher would be dealing with the factors that are specific to
particular stages of the prosecution one by one:
1. Pre Investigation:
This stage basically is concerned with the victims who have to file a complaint
against these white collar criminals so that the whole process of prosecuting
them can start. There are a lot of impediments at this only some are created by
the white collar criminals, others by the system and some by the victims
# First comes the impediment created by the victims. Victims are
themselves not interested in filing such complaints as they are not directly
related with these crimes. Also, they have this fear of complaining against the
powerful in their heads and have a fear that this can adversely affect them or
their family. Also, in some of the WCC they themselves have contributed, due to
which they are less interested in filing complaints against such WCC.
At times, the member of community themselves contribute to the commission of
various white collar crimes willingly or unwillingly. For instance illegal
gratification to public servant to get the work done quickly, black marketing in
time of scarcity, evasive price violation, rent ceiling violation etc.... are
some of the common examples where victims of the crime are themselves to be
blamed for involvement in white collar criminality. In fact such crimes cannot
be committed unless there is demand for illegal favour from consumers and they
are actively involved in the deal.
When they have contributed to the commission, they are not interested in
prosecuting the White Collar Criminal and hence no complaints are filed against
# Next comes the impediments created by the white collar criminals. He
plays a very important role in non filing of the complaints by the victims. His
reputation and the high status acts as a passive impediment whereas his direct
involvement acts as an active impediment. He directly tries to influence the
victims or the complainants for not filing the complaints either by illegal
gratification or by some kind of thread to his body or property.
# Next are the impediments created by the system. Indian legal system is
such that it creates a lot of impediments for the victim to stand against a
white collar criminal. Some of the impediments are delayed justice, favourable
laws, dishonesty etc.
Even though these are very big obstacles or fears in the mind of the victims or
the complainants while raising a voice against these white collar criminals.
However, the government had tried to formulate such laws that the victims can
freely file the complaints them and have no fear in their minds while
complaining. One such example of the initiative is THE WHISTLE BLOWERS
PROTEECTION ACT, 2014. Under this act protection is given the various people
called the whistleblowers for alarming against such white collar criminals.
There are certain specific problems with respect to this stage of investigation
as well. Following are those problems:
# The first one relates to the investigating agency. The problem in this
case is again the impact on the investigating agency or the fear in the minds of
the investigating agency. As we have already discussed that these white collar
criminals are very influential and are part of the system as well. Due to this
fact, the investigating agency is also fearful of doing their work or
investigation in a proper manner. They are in a fear or concluding the
investigation against the influential the white collar criminal. We all know
that investigation plays a very important part in the trial. Therefore, if the
investigation is faulty or is in favour of the white collar criminal, the case
would itself loose its hold at the trial stage, leading the criminal unpunished.
# The second one relates to the witnesses. The same problem of fear and
impact comes into picture in case of witnesses as well. The witnesses are
generally not interested in giving any evidence against the white collar
criminal, him being a very influential person. Due to this, the evidence
available against the white collar criminal weakens and weakens the
investigation as well.
· The third problem relates to the tampering of evidence or important
materials. Investigation takes a lot of time, due to which the accused gets a
lot of time for tampering of the evidences and influencing the witnesses not to
give any statement against him. Due to the delay or time taken for
investigation, there is a scope of tampering as well and this tampering is
obviously done in such a way that it leads the investigation in wrong directions
or in favour of the accused.
This is all about the impediments at the investigation stage.
This stage includes certain impediments as well. There are certain impediments
that are similar to earlier stages, whereas there are certain impediments that
are specific to this stage only.
Following are the 2 specific impediments with
respect to this stage:
# The first one relates to hostility of witnesses. The white collar
criminals are so influential that first of all no one is ready to be a witness
against him and if someone is ready to be witness against him, there are a lot
of chances that during the trial he goes hostile and if he goes hostile the
whole prosecution case would collapse and hence leading to the acquittal of the
accused, the white collar criminal.
Now, one important question that arises is that why a witness would go hostile?
There can be a number of reasons as to why the witnesses go hostile, one such
reason being the threat he would have received for giving any statement against
the accused. In WCC, the accused being the influential person, this is the most
important and probable reason for going a witness hostile in the trial against a
white collar criminal.
# The second one relates to probability of dishonest intentions of the
prosecution. These white collar criminals or the accused of these WCC are so
influential that even the prosecution is not interested in getting him
convicted. Even he is in favour or side of the accused. Even if he is not in the
favour of the accused wilfully, he is made not to do his job properly so that
the accused is not acquitted and the charges against him are either dismissed or
These are certain specific impediments with respect to the stage of trial that
comes to the way of detecting a WCC and punishing the accused of such WCC.
Now, comes the final stage i.e. the conviction part or the judgement part. This
is the last stage of a trial, only few cases of the total WCC committed reach to
To this stage as well there are certain specific impediments that
come the way of punishing the accused of a WCC:
# The first problem with respect to the conviction stage is the sympathy
of the judge towards the accused of the WCC. The accused of such crimes and the
judges all form part of the same class, therefore the judges are a bit reluctant
in sentencing these accused to a very high punishment. Even if we imagine that
the judge is so honest and that the judge is not at all sympathetic towards the
accused, even then there can be a lot of circumstances where that judge has to
face a lot of pressure from the high fraternity of not convicting such accused.
The result of all such scenario is that the accused of such WCC goes unpunished.
· The second problem or impediment that the courts face at this is
the Lack of material on record or lack of evidence. As we have already discussed
as to how the witnesses goes hostile, how they are not interested in giving the
evidence against the accused, how the investigating agency favours the accused
and also how even the prosecution favours the accused. All this leads to a
situation where the judge knows that the accused is guilty and wants to convict
him but cannot do so because the material on record is not sufficient enough to
hold the accused guilty and hence leading to a situation where the accused goes
punished and is acquitted.
# The third impediment is that of the Favourable laws. We are well aware
that in India, the criminal law favours the accused. The biggest proof of this
favour lies in the main concept of proof in the criminal law, which states that
“a crime against a criminal must be proved against all reasonable doubts”. This
means that the prosecution has to prove that the accused is involved in
commission of WCC beyond all reasonable doubts which is a bit difficult the
above impediments in the various stages of a prosecution. Hence, the result
would be that the accused of a WCC goes unpunished.
# The fourth impediment relates to the Delay in the whole process. This
whole process of investigation and trial is elaborately done that it takes years
to reach the conviction stage. As we know that the victim in case of WCC is
society as a whole, due to the time taken, the society becomes less and less
interested in the outcome of the prosecution. Since, they are not interested in
the prosecution, there is as such no pressure on the system to convict the
accused and the result is that either the accused is released or there is a
relaxation in the punishment awarded to him.
This is all about the common and the specific impediments that are faced while
prosecuting the accused of a WCC.
Suggestions For Avoiding Or Reducing Such Hurdles:
Following are the suggestions the researcher would like to give with respect to
how these impediments or problems in prosecutions be avoided or at least tried
to be reduced:
1. Curbing the root cause being the influential nature of the accused:
The root cause of all or rather majority of the impediments is the power or the
influential nature of the accused of the WCC. Due to his influential nature or
his power, he tries to effect the prosecution at each and every stage be it the
pre investigation, the investigation, trial or the conviction stage. He
basically tries to create a kind of fear in the minds of the various people
involved at various stages, not to do or say anything that goes or that can go
against him. Hence, misleading the whole process.
My suggestion to this problem or impediment is that a system must be created
whereby the accused is not able to influence the people. There is a need of more
and more laws like THE WHISTLE BLOWERS ACT, whereby the identity of the
complainant is secured so that the accused is not able to influence or threaten
My second suggestion is that a system of incentive must be created so that the
people are motivated to come forward against these white collar criminals. The
various people like the complainants, the witnesses, the investigating agency,
the prosecution lawyer, the judges be incentivized in case they help in taking
the case to conviction stage. The incentive can be in the form of money or any
other kind of gesture of his excellence so that are motivated to do their job in
the best way they can.
3. Restrictions on the accused:
As we have discussed that once a complaint has been filed against the accused,
he tries to adversely influence the whole process in a way that is favourable to
him. A system should be developed through which he is prevented to do so. It can
be done by some extra restrictions to his body, phone tapping etc.
4. Security to the people:
This suggestion again relates to the influential nature of the accused. There
are a number of people involved in a case be it the complainants, the witnesses,
the investigating agencies, the prosecution lawyer, the judge who have a fear in
their mind that they would be adversely affected or that they or their family
would be harmed in case they say or do anything against the accused.
A system should be created in which an extra security be provided to these
people so that they do not have the fear of any adverse happening to them or
their family and can proceed towards the case with full vigour.
5. Speedy trial and timelines:
This suggestion is with respect to delay that occurs in the whole process. It
take years from when the complaint is filed to when the investigation is
completed to when the trial begins and to when it finally end. The time taken is
so much that by the time the judgement is to be passed, the whole matter losses
it rigour and the people are not at all concerned as to what has finally
happened to the accused.
For this problem, I have basically 2 suggestions, first one being the concept of
speedy trial and the other being the introduction of timelines. That the
legislature should introduce timelines with respect to various stages during or
before completion of which the process be completed.
6. Role of legislature:
Legislature plays a very important role to play while enacting laws of this
kind. These are the kind of laws that would criminalize or would adversely
affect the people they form a part of. Therefore, they adopt a bit relaxed
approach while enacting laws relating to the WCC. This is not what is expected
from them, they are expected to act more responsibly while dealing with such
matters. They should not enact laws that favours the special class of people who
are to be designated as criminals by the law rather they should enact the law
that favours the people, the society for whose welfare they are expected o work.
7. Stricter laws favourable laws:
As we have seen that the laws relating to the white collar crimes are not strict
and also a bit favourable to the accused. There should be stricter laws for
Also, laws should be there with respect to the root cause of all the problems
that is “their power to influence the whole process”. With respect to this
special aspect, the law should stricter the accused should think twice before
doing any act that would adversely affect the trial or would make the trial in
In fact, laws should be there for detection of whether the accused is trying to
influence the process. Special care be taken that he is not in a position to
influence the whole process. If this thing is cured or avoided, a lot of other
defects would automatically be cure or avoided. In other words, this is the most
important impediment or problem that should be taken care of by the authorities
at the earliest.
This is all about the suggestions the researcher would like to give so to reduce
or avoid the various impediments in the process.
This is all about the psychological hurdles that are faced while prosecuting
these white collar criminals. The nature of these offences is very peculiar,
therefore, they cannot be dealt with the general law and there is need of
special attention towards these WCC. To conclude, it can be said that there is a
need that our legislature and all the concerned authorities that an environment
be created so that these hurdles be removed.