Bribery and Corruption in relation to Law and Order need to be examined in yet another light. Bribery and Corruption are taking a toll on Order in many ways which calls for closer examination. The attitude of, “What cannot be cured must be endured”, will not help because Bribery and Corruption adversely affect the whole [...]

Sunday Times 2

Law and order: The cloud over Bribery and corruption


Bribery and Corruption in relation to Law and Order need to be examined in yet another light. Bribery and Corruption are taking a toll on Order in many ways which calls for closer examination. The attitude of, “What cannot be cured must be endured”, will not help because Bribery and Corruption adversely affect the whole gamut of Law and Order. Hence, some remedial measures are also recommended.

Some repetition from earlier articles becomes necessary to bring up the context.

As a criminal offence, Bribery and Corruption law is apparently faring poorly if the problem is to be dealt with in the prevailing manner of the law. The convictions are dismally low too, only some small fries are penalised. Hardly any persons of means are sanctioned under this law. The annual reports of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) reflects this, the public know this only too well. Failure of the law in this sense is the problem that evidently confronts.

Failure of the Bribery law has nevertheless many dimensions. Reference is to distortion of the law process through delay, this time in a calculated manner. Such delay is termed in the US as weaponising laws delay, with idea to vitiate Justice. The dilatory process indulged in Bribery law is, therefore, more than simple delay over other offences when the process itself under Bribery law can be subverted. The active and the passive, to subvert and to be subverted, now come together in the process. This aspect marks out administration of Bribery law from administration of other criminal offences. Failure of administration of normal crime impacts on the community. Failure of administration in Bribery law undermines the whole Law and Order process. This is what subversion means.

The integrity of instituted law is now destabilised. For such failure in Bribery law affects other areas of the law and operates in an insidious manner. Thereby law’s delay as popularly known is more subtle than recognised. That apart, the definition of Corruption is itself undermined. Corruption is defined as an act of an official which cause loss to the government. Politicians represent the government. The problem is when politicians and the officials together cause loss to the ‘government’. Such is, generally, the case the people are confronted with. The definition of Corruption then comes apart.

What action then? An answer to this question is a daunting task. The public are aghast at the dismal prospect of the Bribery law. Many of the authorities are little concerned. The concerns are both geographical and legal. The man at Nochchiyagama is deterred by the physical need to travel to Longdon Place. In legal terms, Bribery and corruption cases have to deal with this by law only at the centre. The periphery is relieved of this responsibility since the Establishment Code (EC) had to give way to the Bribery Law.

The result is the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is off track. The EC is non ’est. The CIABOC is not quite there. Much of this is due to the feature of a market society. In that society, the guiding principle is exchange value of their products, even as they are bought and sold. Such practices pervade over all. That is called ‘market society’. The organs of government are inescapably caught up in the market society. Preoccupation with a ‘jogging track’ mentality is a sign. These symptoms are erupting. The CIABOC in a manner of speaking is not immune to all these afflictions. The CIABOC acts only on complaints made to it, not through intelligence and information of bribery though corruption may be staring it in the eye. Market society on the other hand goes out in search of opportunities. The CIABOC does not. And even when matters are brought to their notice, the CIABOC acts only reactively.

Even the EC is disabled. Bribery and Corruption is not merely a criminal offence. The EC is buried deep under the Bribery Law. The failure is in the inability to understand that the offence of bribery and corruption is both a criminal offence as well as an administrative offence. No offence of bribery is possible without attendant administrative transgression. The two go hand in hand. But the bribery law has swallowed the EC completely.

Justice, morality, ethics and common good.

Where then of Justice, Morality, Ethics and Common Good?   In this milieu, these values are even irrelevant, not even spoken of. Are these lost to Money, Economy, Finance and Power? The public, however,              are most concerned about this situation. But they do not have the means to fight this menace. For the moment they can take a cue from Martin Luther King and press on: “To cure injustices you should expose them before the light of Human conscience and the bar of public opinion regardless of what tension that exposure generates, they should be brought out in the open where they cannot be avoided.”

The problems are far reaching. Only rudimentary recommendations can be made here:

Corruptive practices on the part of politicians in government are reflected in CIABOC investigations. MPs should be reported to the Speaker for action. In New South Wales Parliament, a MP was suspended till conclusion of the inquiry.

Officials involved in corrupt activities as reflected in CIABOC inquiries should be reported to the Head of the Department with recommendation for their interdiction. Suspension till inquiries is finalized.

Where CIABOC inquiries reveal administrative misdemeanors on the part of Officials, Heads of Department should take disciplinary action in terms of the EC restricted to the administrative lapses.

The EC should be reinstituted to function as before in consultation with the CIABOC.

Trust this will catch the eye of the authorities.

(The writer is a Retired Senior Superintendent of Police. He can be contacted at


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