White Collar Crimes in India

White collar crime is pervasive in almost all the professions and occupations in our society. The problem is quite acute, both in terms of variety and the extent of white – collar criminality. The Santhanam Committee Report in its findings gave a vivid picture of white – collar crimes committed by persons of respectability such as businessmen, industrialists, contractors, and suppliers as also the corrupt public officials.

The report of Vivin Bose Commission of Inquiry into the affairs of Dalmia-Jain group of companies in 1963 highlights how these industrialists indulge in white – collar crimes such as fraud, falsification of accounts, tax- evasion, etc. Similar observations were made by Mr. Justice M.C Chagla about the big business magnate Mundhra who wanted to “build up an industrial empire of dubious means”. There were as many as 124 prosecutions against this business tycoon and companies owned or controlled by him and most of them resulted into conviction.

(1) Hoarding Black Marketing and Adulteration

The white – collar crimes which are common to Indian trade and business world are hoarding, profiteering and black marketing. Violation of foreign exchange regulations (i.e. FERA) and import and export laws are frequently resorted to for the, sake of huge profits. Further, adulteration of foodstuffs, edibles and drugs which causes irreparable damage to public health is yet another white – collar crime common in India [viz. the recent instance (1998) of ‘dropsy’ deaths caused in Delhi due to Mustard Oil Adulteration].

(2) Tax Evasion

The complexity of tax-laws in India has provided sufficient scope for the tax-payers to evade taxes, The evasion is more common with influential categories of persons such as adulterators, businessmen, lawyers, doctors, engineers, contractors, etc. It is to be noted that tax-evasion is illegal, but tax-avoidance not. Tax-evasion implies non-payment of tax due to be paid, the tax-avoidance signifies arranginf the spread over of one’s income in such a way that it does not incur tax-liability legally and lawfully.

(3) White Collar crime in Professions

In the profession of medicine, most common instances of white – collar criminality are illegal abortions, false medical certificates and necessary prolonged treatment in many cases. The usual legal and professional violations committed by lawyers are: advising organized criminals, aiding in preferring false claims, engaging professional witness, fabricating false evidence, etc. In the engineering profession, underhand dealings with contractors and suppliers, passing of sub-standard works and materials and maintenance of bogus records of work-charged labour are some of the common examples of white – collar crime.

(4) White Collar crime in Business deals

Conspiracies in restraint of trade, misrepresentation in advertising, infringements against copyrights and trade marks, unfair labour practices, bribing public officials, etc. are some of the common examples of ‘illegal’ business deals.

(5) Corruption

It is not limited to the concept of bribes of illegal gratification taken by public servants. In its wider sense, corruption includes all forms of dishonest gains in cash, kind or position by persons in government and those associated with public and political affairs. The Santhanam Committee observed that corruption can exist only if there is someone willing to corrupt and capable of corrupting; both this willingness and capacity to corrupt is found in a large measure in the industrial and commercial classes. To these, corruption is not only an easy method to secure large unearned profits, but also the necessary means to enable them to be in a position to pursue their vocations or retain their position among their own competitors.

Impact of socio-economic offences on National economy

‘Socio-economic offences’ are the manifestation of criminal acts done either solely or in an organized manner with or without associates/gangs with an intent to earn wealth through illegal means, and carry out illicit activities violating the laws of land, other regulatory, statutory provisions governing the economic activities of the Government and its administration. In such crimes, individual person is not the victim, instead it is the State or society as a whole which suffers economic loss due to such activity.

Such offences cause significant damage to the general economy of the country adversely affecting the growth and development of the nation. Some of the major impacts that may be caused by the socio-economic offences illustratively are :

(i) Increase in inflationary pressure.

(ii) Uneven distribution of resources and creation of elitism.

(iii) Marginalisation of tax base.

(iv) Generation of abundant black money.

(v) Creation of a ‘parallel’ economy.

(vi) Development works/efforts are undermined.

(vii) Country’s economic equilibrium is at stake.

(viii) Breeding ground of corruption.

(ix) Illicit business and public office corruption thrive and affect normal business activities.

(x) Resources of financial institutions and commercial institutions are diverted and distorted.

(xi) Weakens morale and commitment of the citizens and promote social disorganization.

(xii) The poor/weakest continue to be poorer and are at risk.

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