Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials at all levels of government. Officials frequently engaged, however, in corrupt practices with impunity. There were numerous reports of government corruption during the year.
Corruption: Corruption was present at all levels of government. According to Crime in India 2016 data, the CBI registered 673 corruption-related cases. NGOs reported the payment of bribes to expedite services, such as police protection, school admission, water supply, or government assistance. Civil society organizations drew public attention to corruption throughout the year, including through demonstrations and websites that featured stories of corruption.
Media reports, NGOs, and activists reported links between contractors, militant groups, and security forces in infrastructure projects, narcotics trafficking, and timber smuggling in the northeastern states. These reports alleged ties among politicians, bureaucrats, security personnel, and insurgent groups. In Manipur and Nagaland, allegations of bribes paid to secure state government jobs were prevalent, especially in police and education departments.
Corruption sometimes hampered government programs to investigate allegations of government corruption. On February 14, V. K. Sasikala, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu ruling party, All India Anna Dravida Munntra Kazhagam-Amma, was convicted of corruption after the Supreme Court restored the trial court verdict in a 21-year-old case. Additionally, by law Sasikala was barred from contesting any election for six years following her prison term.
In 2015 the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to take over a Madhya Pradesh state government investigation of fraud within the Professional Examination Board, a state government body that conducts school entrance and government service exams. Arrests in the case since the investigation began in 2013 included more than 2,000 individuals. In August 2016 the CBI filed formal complaints against 60 individuals and filed charges against a student candidate and an impersonator. The Madhya Pradesh High Court granted bail to some of the accused. The CBI was also investigating the deaths of 48 individuals over the span of five years, including a journalist who reported on the alleged fraud. On February 13, the Supreme Court cancelled the admission of more than 600 Madhya Pradesh medical students who they believed used examination malpractice to pass.
On April 10, the Anticorruption Bureau (ACB) registered a complaint against Eknath Khadse, the former Maharashtra agriculture and revenue minister, his wife, son-in-law, and an aide in Pune for alleged corruption in a land deal. On March 8, the state government informed the court that the ACB would take over investigations from the local police. Khadse had resigned as a minister in June 2016 when the allegations surfaced. There was no update on the case by year’s end.
Financial Disclosure: The law mandates asset declarations for all officers in the Indian Administrative Services. Both the Election Commission and the Supreme Court upheld mandatory disclosure of criminal and financial records for election candidates.