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Legalising Bribe: A Novel and Radical Approach?

Posted on August 22, 2011 in Politics

By Danish Khan:

We all think of bribes, whether they are good or bad. But, for some certainly it is not a good idea. For the people belonging to middle and small income group, it is not something that really makes them happy unless the work they are bribing for is getting fulfilled. The recent remarks by Mr. Narayan Murthy on making bribe legal, where he was in support of Kaushik Basu’s, India’s Chief Economic Advisor, suggestion to make bribe giving legal invited some frowns and some smiles.

The suggestion made by Mr. Basu is itself a radical and revolutionary step in order to curb the corruption.  Mr. Basu argues that for a certain types of bribes, which possibly for want of a better word he describes as “harassment bribes,” bribe giving should be a legitimate activity. Such bribes should be directed only toward getting services to which you and I are legally entitled at the moment, such as an Income Tax Refund or Customs clearance for an exporter’s goods.

He further explains the theory involved in making bribe legal. He said once a demand for bribe has been fulfilled, and the services is received and fulfilled by the bribe-taker — the bribe-giver may help in getting the bribe-taker caught because after altering the law briber is free from any punitive measure. He also suggests that this would deter the bribe-taker from taking bribe.

Mr. Narayan Murthy, founder of Infosys is also in support of such Act. He added that this could really help in order to reduce corruption.

However, P Sainath, is not in a favor of this Act. He referred it as a less pragmatic Act, if implemented. According to him, it will only benefit those who are willing to pay bribes without any hesitation, but what about those who are poor and not able to pay such bribes. If a bribe-giver exposes the action after giving bribe, then it will also embroil him to more harassment, many legal complexities and he/she would be paying legal charges in the form of cases they fight.

Making bribe legal would also make the system of corruption even more strong. Unethical lobbying would also become rampant, if the act is legalized. For instance, many scam from past have some kind of relations with corporate bribery. After legalizing bribes more instances of 2G scams and Aircel deal will appear in the future. And this time with more conviction and safeguards from the law, which doesn’t seem a good idea.

There is a matter of security as well. Those who are forced to pay bribes, if raise their voice against such action, then there is no safeguard that can be provided to them. The Act of legalizing bribe is rather a gift to the corporate world, where they can easily bribe government officials to make their deal.

The Act certainly doesn’t seem novel and radical so far and rather it allows us to succumb against the prevailing corrupt system. This Act would undermine the honesty and integrity of a person. There should be more revolutionary and pragmatic approach, in order to stop the avalanche of such bribery scandals.