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Friday, September 3, 2010

Criminology - White Collar Crimes in India: who will bell the Cat

The concept of white collar crime is usually associated with E.H. Sutherland whose penetrating work in this area focused the attention of criminologists on its demoralizing effect on the total crime picture. Sutherland pointed out that besides the traditional crimes such as assault, robbery, dacoity, murder, rape, kidnapping and other acts involving violence, there are certain anti social activities which the persons of upper strata carry on in course of their occupation or business. These activities for a long time were accepted as a part of usual business tactics necessary for a shrewd professional man for his success in profession or business. Thus any complaint against such tactics often went unheeded and unpunished.
It must, however, be stated that Sutherland was preceded by other writers who focused attention on the dangers to society from the upper socio economic group who exploited the accepted economic system to the detriment of common masses. Thus Albert Morris refers to a paper entitled 'Criminal Capitalists' which was read by Edwin C Hill before the International Congress on the Prevention And Repression Of Crime at London in 1872. In this paper the learned writer underlined the growing incidence of crime as an organised business and its evil effects on society. In 1934, Morris drew attention to the necessity of a change in emphasis regarding crime. He asserted that anti social activities of persons of high status committed in course of their profession must be brought within the category of crime and should be made punishable. Finally E.H. Sutherland through his pioneering work emphasised that these 'upper world' crimes which are committed by the persons of upper socio economic groups in course of their occupation violating the trust, should be termed "White Collar Crime" so as to be distinguished from traditional crime which he called, "Blue Collar Crime". Thus, he observed that if a broker shoots his wife's lover, that is not a white collar crime, but it' he violates the law and is convicted in connection with his business, he is a white collar criminal.
Sutherland further pointed out that white collar crimes differ from the crimes committed by criminal syndicates. This distinction could be based on the extent of presumed respectability. Thus, if a person who belongs to a respectable class of society and possesses some degree of good reputation, sells shoddy goods, he is committing a white collar crime. But if a group of persons unknown to their victims, sell the same type of shoddy goods that would not be a white collar crime.
Sutherland carefully examined the depredations of about seventy large corporations involved in white collar crimes and found that the charges against them included contracts, combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade, misrepresentation in advertising, infringements against copyrights, financial frauds regulations and other miscellaneous offences. and violations of trust, b reach of war But people knew. very little about the trickery of these big business criminals and even if they knew, they were apathetic towards the problem because of the fact that "the legal battles involved therein are dragged out for years in the courts, with the result that the charges are forgotten long before they are settled."
Sutherland’s View
The concept of "white collar crime" found its place in criminology for the first time in 1941 when Sutherland published his research paper on white collar criminality in the American Sociological Review . He defined white collar crime as a "crime committed by persons of respectability and high social status in course of their occupation". A white collar criminal belongs to upper socio economic class who violates the criminal law while conducting his professional qualities. Thus misrepresentation through fraudulent advertisements, infringement of patents, copyrights and trade marks etc., are frequently resorted to by manufacturers, industrialists and other persons of repute in course of their occupation with a view to earning huge profits. Other illustrations of white collar criminality include publication of fabricated balance sheets and profit and loss account of business, passing of goods, concealment of defects in the commodity for sale etc.
Sutherland further pointed out that a white collar crime is more dangerous to society than ordinary crimes because the financial loss to society, from white collar crimes is far greater than the financial loss from burglaries, robberies larcenies etc. 'Me most dismal aspect of white collar crimes is that there is no effective programme for the enforcement of criminal law against them ' and the influential persons involved in these crimes are able to resist enforcement of law against themselves.
Sutherland, in coining the term "white-collar crime" earlier this century, defined the concept as "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation. " Sutherland sought not to provide a comprehensive definition, but to expand the realm of criminology by including a wide variety of civil and regulatory violations that were not at the time viewed as criminal acts. Later scholars have sculpted a further framework that today includes corporate and occupational crime ; elite deviance ; contrepreneurial crime ; political or government crime ; and technocrimes . Debate on the precise parameters of the field continues today . This search for an acceptable definition of white-collar crime led to an academic workshop co-sponsored by the National White-Collar Crime Center and West Virginia University. In attendance were noted white-collar criminologists who, by the end of the three-day proceedings, reached a general consensus on a definition: "Illegal or unethical acts that violate fiduciary responsibility or public trust, committed by an individual or organization, usually during the course of legitimate occupational activity, by persons of high or respectable social status for personal or organizational gain. " While this definition lays a framework for discussion, various elements in the definition are still in dispute. For example, there is no consensus on whether unethical or deviant acts should be included in the definition, or whether white-collar crime should be determined by the status of the individual committing the act or by the offense committed .
These white collar crimes by their very nature are such that the injury or damage caused as a result of them is so widely diffused in the large body of society that their gravity in regard to individual victim is almost negligible. It is probably for this reason that till late these crimes did not attract Much attention as they do not carry with them any loss of social status of the offender even it' he is caught or detected. There is yet, another reason for white collar criminals escaping prosecution. In cases of misrepresentation, concealment or fraud etc., the Courts usually place reliance on the principle of caveat emptor, which signifies that the purchaser must enter into a deal with open eyes and guard himself against ordinary dishonesty of the vendor. As a result of this attitude of the courts there was enormous increase in white collar crime during the period of depression in 1930's in United States. Perhaps it is for this reason that American President Roosevelt in 1933 insisted on withdrawal of the doctrine of caveat emptor from adjudication of cases involving white collar crime.
Sir Walter Reckless, an eminent American criminologist suggests that white collar crime represents the offences of businessmen who are in a position to, determine the policies and activities of business . Some authorities suggest that white collar crimes are committed by persons of status not for need but for greed .
Referring to this variety of the upper world of crime, Barne and Teaters quoted Lord Acton who said, "power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely". Wherever citizens of a particular community become apathetic to the working of their Government, grafts, corruption' and alliance between, public servants and the criminal world are common phenomenon resulting into breach of trust, fraud and other malpractices.
During the Truman administration in U.S.A. the well known "Fine percenters” and "Friendship Racket" operated between the high ups close to President and contractors who procured war contracts. Bruce Catton's "The War Lords of Washington", best reveals the story of' the callousness of some businessmen during World War It. It indicates tile indifference, greed, inaptness and arrogance of' many of those responsible for conducting a war and how they shelved of' tile democratic ideals for their personal gain while performing their official duties. The reason for such deals remaining Undetected as pointed out by Sutherland was that "the fine
line between criminal activity and immorality either in business or in government is often difficult to discern".
It must be emphatically stated that white collar criminality thrives because of public apathy to it. 'Me reason for this public insensibility is that firstly such criminals operate within the strict letter of the law and exploit the credibility of' their victims ; and secondly, the legal battles involved are dragged out for year in the courts, with the result the gravity of the offence is completely lost in the oblivion. That apart, the impact of white collar crime 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.
There is yet another important point in context of white collar crime. At times, the members of the community themselves contribute, to the commission of' various white collar crimes willingly or unwillingly. For instance, illegal gratification to public servants to get the work done quickly, black marketing in times of scarcity, evasive price violations, rent ceiling violations 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 crime cannot be committed, unless there is a demand for illegal favour from consumers and they are actively involved in the deal.
Definitions of white-collar crime generally indicate that the harm inflicted may be financial, physical, or social. Although the term white-collar crime is most frequently associated with economic crimes such as embezzlement or securities fraud, the concept is by no means restricted to financial loss. Personal injuries, diseases, and death due to occupational workplace hazards, environmental pollution, and the marketing of dangerous products are among the physical costs resulting from white-collar crime. When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker, for example, spilled millions of gallons of oil in the sea off the coast of Alaska, it caused vast damage to wildlife and the pristine surroundings . Exxon pled guilty to criminal charges and was fined $100 million. Similarly, Ford was prosecuted under a reckless homicide statute after three teenagers burned to death in their Pinto . The owner of Imperial Foods Company in North Carolina also pled guilty to workplace hazards that resulted in the burn deaths of twenty-five employees at the chicken processing plant . He received a nineteen year prison sentence.
These few examples illustrate that white-collar crimes, particularly corporate crime, may have violent consequences. While the outcomes may be violent, the means used to accomplish the offense typically are nonviolent in the traditional sense of the term. White-collar offenders do not employ weapons or force in the commission of the offense, though they may do so in such acts as police or government abuse of power. Both financial and physical white- collar offenses customarily are committed through the breach of fiduciary duty, deception, omission, concealment, misappropriation, and abuse of public trust .
Criticism of Sutherland's views on White Collar Crime
Sutherland’s definition of white collar crime has evoked criticism from certain quarters. Some critics allege that such violations come within the purview of' tile Special Commissions, Tribunals and 'Boards instead of' normal criminal justice administrators. Therefore, strictly speaking, they cannot result into conviction of the
offender and hence he cannot be called 'criminal' in real sense of the term. Commenting on this aspect of the issue, Tappan observes that treating persons committing white collar crime as criminals would mean deviating from legal definition of crime inasmuch as personal value considerations of the administrator would gain primary in place of precision and clarity of legal provisions in deciding such cases . Sutherland however, justifies the special procedure of trial for white collar criminals by administrative agencies on the ground that it would protect the offender from the stigma of criminal prosecution.
Another criticism quite often advanced against Sutherland's definition of white Collar crime is that it includes even those violations of law which are not committed in course of occupation or profession and these violations do not necessarily belong to upper strata of society or the so called prestigious groups. For example, tax evasion is not committed in course of occupation and it can be committed by persons belonging to upper, middle or even lower strata of society.
Yet another objection against the definition of white collar crime is that it does not necessarily require mens rea which is an essential ingredient of a crime. The doctrine of mens rea based on common law has no application to statutory offences in India and the requirement of guilty mind may be excluded either expressly or by implication in such cases.
Of all the factors, the economical industrial growth throughout the world has, perhaps been the most potential cause of increase in white collar crimes in recent years. The changing socio economic scenario of the society coupled with increase in wealth and prosperity has furnished, opportunities for such crimes. Commenting on the growing incidence of white collar crime in India, the Law Commission in its Twenty ninth Report observed, that modern scientific and technological developments and, monopolistic trends in business world have led to enormous increase in white collar crimes.
The post War Independence period in India ushered an era of welfare activities which necessitated regulatory measure on the part of government to control means of production and distribution so as to subserve the common good . The contravention of such regulatory measures generally give rise to white collar criminality.
Marshal B. Clinard asserted that the problem of white collar criminality has its root in, competitive business community which tries to oust their rival competitors in order to earn huge profits. Sometimes such Crimes may also be committed merely for the sake of retaining existence in the competitive business. To illustrate, though there is a prescribed code of ethics for the practising lawyers but since the very nature of their profession involves the spirit of combat and competition, they often resort unlawful tactics such as concealment or misrepresentation of facts, Which if detected, is punishable under the Law. To take another example, the private educational institutions in India which receive public aid or grants furnish false accounts simply for the sake of retaining their existence. Likewise, the members of industrial and business class who enjoy high status in the society have a tendency to suppress their real profits by furnishing false and fabricated accounts of their income and property in order to claim tax exemptions or avoid payment of heavy taxes.
One more reason for the multiplicity of white collar crime is relatively high socio economic status of white collar criminals. They belong to an influential group which is powerful enough to handle their occupation tactfully and persons affected thereby hardly know that they are being victimised. Moreover, the public in general is also somewhat apathetic to such crimes thug causing obstruction in prosecution and punishment of white collar criminals.
It is often alleged that criminal law administrators and Judges being members of upper strata of the society, are generally sympathetic towards white collar criminals while dealing with them. But there seems no justification in this assertion. If this allegation is based on the large number of acquittals of white collar criminals, it may be pointed out that it is not because of the sympathy of Judges for those criminals but because of the thin line of demarcation between criminality and immorality involved in white collar crimes.
The recent developments in information technology, particularly during the closing years of the twentieth century, have added new dimensions to while collar criminality. There has been unprecedented growth of a new variety of computer dominated white collar crimes which are commonly called as cyber crimes. These in crimes have become a matter of global concern and a challenge for the law enforcement agencies in the new millennium. Because of the specific nature of these crimes, they can be committed anonymously and far away from the victim without physical presence. Further, cyber criminals have a major advantage: they, can use computer technology to inflict damage without the risk of being apprehended or caught. It has been predicted that there would be simultaneous increase in cyber crimes with the increase in new internet web sites. The areas
affected by cyber crimes are banking and financial institutions, energy and telecommunication services, transportation, business, industries etc.
White collar criminality has become a global phenomenon with the advance of commerce and technology. Like any other country, India is equally in the grip of white collar criminality. The reason for enormous increase in white collar crime in recent decades is to be found in the fast developing economy and industrial growth of this developing country. 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 the 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, tampering with records for personal gains and tax evasion etc. Similar observations re 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 between 1958 to 1960 and as many as 113 of them resulted into conviction .
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 and import and export laws are frequently resorted to for the sake of huge profits. That apart, adulteration of foodstuffs, edibles and drugs which causes irreparable danger to public health is yet another white collar crime common in India . The Law Commission of India has suggested drastic measures against such offenders. In the Commission's observation the tedious prosecution process involved in the trial of such cases frustrates the cause of justice and often results into unjustified acquittal due to defective report of the analyst or delay in examination of samples or lack of legal expertise etc .
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 traders, businessmen,, lawyers, doctors, engineers, contractors etc. The main difficulty posed before the Income Tax Department is to know the real and exact income of these professionals. It is often alleged that the actual tax paid by these persons is only a fraction of their income and rest of the money goes into circulation as 'black money'. Despite frequent modifications in the thx laws of the country the menace of tax evasion continues unabated and it is causing considerable loss to government revenue.
The Supreme Court in its majority decision in R.K.Garg v. Union of India upholding the validity of the Special. Bearer Bonds (Immunities and Exemption): Act, 1981, observed that the Act was not intended to encourage, tax evasion in future and condone such evasion committed in past but the real object of the Act was to launch a nation wide search to unearth undisclosed wealth. by encouraging small, incentive to those who declare their undisclosed cash. The main intention was to unearth ‘black money’ so as to prevent further loss of government revenues.
It may be pointed out that the problem of generation of black money (unaccounted money) and its proliferation is, not new. The Government of India has formulated voluntary disclosure Schemes to unearth the black money specially to be used for certain social objectives. But the results of these schemes have not been very encouraging. The main reason 19r unsatisfactory response to these schemes seems to be that tax payers do not Want to be identified as having evaded the tax in the past and the, fear of re opening of their past assessments and facing roving enquiries also dissuade them from resorting to these schemes .
It is significant to note in this context that what constitutes crime is ‘tax evasion’ and not 'tax avoidance'. Though both these terms, appear to be synonymous, there is a fine distinction between the two. While the former implies non payment of tax due to be paid, the latter signifies arranging the spread over of one's, income in such a way that it does not incur tax liability legally and lawfully .
It may be stated that the Government has introduced various regulatory legislations such as the Essential Commodities Act 1955, the Industrial (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951.,The Import and Exports (Control) Act, 1947, the Foreign Exchange (Regulation) Act, 1974, Companies Act, 1956 as amended from time to time, the breach of which results in white collar criminality. A large majority of white collar crime are, however, operating within the letter and spirit of the law and, therefore, do not call for legal action.
Some of the professions involving technical expertise and skill provide sufficient opportunities for the white collar criminality. They include medical profession, engineering, legal practice, private educational institutions etc.
Medical Profession
White collar crimes which are commonly committed by persons belonging to medical~ profession include issuance of false medical certificates helping illegal abortions, secret service to dac6its by giving expert opinion leading to their acquittal and selling sample drugs and medicines, to patients or chemists. Dialatory tactics adopted by the, members of this profession in treatment of their patients with a view to extracting huge; sums from them has become an accepted norm, particularly with those medical men who do not have a good practice or have only, a marginal earning.
The persons employed in essential services of the government or other undertakings are often confronted with the, problem of getting leave, due to shortage of staff. They, therefore, procure medical certificate regarding their false sickness and produce it to the department to justify their absence from duty. In return, they have to pay certain amount to the concerned medical staff. Thus, though collar crime, this tactic has proved a boon and a workable alternatives to employers who have difficulty in obtaining leave from the employers.
Fake and misleading advertising is yet another area in which the white collar criminals operate. They make illegal and misleading claims of medical cure, through advertisements in newspapers, magazines radio and television thus adding to the human misery. Many patent medicines are not only worthless but harmful. Similar advertisements for cosmetics and adulterated food are also widespread in practice which is injurious to public bealth. These persons may not break the letter of the law but by violating its spirit, they commit crimes which are not only anti-social but also injurious to public health.
In the engineering profession underhand dealings with contractors, and suppliers, passing of sub4tandard works and materials and maintenance of bogus records of work charged labour are some of the common examples of white collar crime. Scandals of this kind are reported in newspapers and magazines almost every day. Construction of buildings, roads, canals, dams and bridges with sub-standard material not only endangers public safety but also results into huge loss to public exchequer.
Legal Profession
In India the lawyer’s profession is not looked with much respect these days. There are two obvious reasons for this. The legal to education and unethical practices resorted to by the members of legal profession procure clientage are mainly responsible for the gradation of this profession which was once considered to be one of the noblest vocations. The instances of fabricating false evidence, engaging professional witnesses, violating ethical standards of legal profession and dialatory tactics in collusion with the ministerial stiff of the courts are some of the common practices which are, truly speaking, the white collar crimes quite often practiced by the legal practitioners.
Generally the professional crooks and criminal gangs h ave their own trusted lawyer who can be can be depended' upon to arrange things and keep himself ready with bail, bond or hebeas corpus writ to avoid arrest of the gangster. If the members of the gang are arrested, the lawyer has to find out way and means to arrange or ‘fix’ their release. There are criminal lawyers who arrange professional alibies, cooked witnesses in close liaison with the police for defending the gangsters.
Though there is a definite code of conduct for legal profession but it is 6nlyati ornamental document. However, this is not to say that all lawyers are corrupt and unethical. Quite a large number of them are most sincere and honest in their profession commanding great respect from all sections of society. Perhaps, it is because of the peculiar nature of their profession that the lawyers and advocates have to resort to these tactics in order: to survive in the profession which is becoming more, and more competitive with the passage of time.
Educational Institutions
Yet another field where white collar criminals operate with impunity are the privately run educational institutions in this' country. The governing bodies of these institutions manage to secure large sums by way of government grants or financial aid by submitting fictitious and fake details about their institutions. The teachers and other staff working in these institutions receive a meager salary far less than what they actually sign for, thus allowing a big margin for the management to grab huge amount in this illegal manner. The victimized teachers can hardly afford to complain about this exploitation to high ups because of the fear of being thrown out of job. They are, therefore, compelled ' to compromise with the situation. Although the Government has introduced the scheme of treasury payments for teachers of private institutions, but the problem still persists in one form or the other. That apart, Fake and bogus enrolments of students who are residing far away from the place of location of these institutions is yet another source of illegal earning for them. They charge huge amounts by way of donations or capitation fees from such needy students. Even rackets operate in these institutions for procuring students to appear in different examinations on the basis of manipulated eligibility certificates or domicile certificates in return for huge sums. These dishonest and unscrupulous practices have damaged the standard of education in India to such an extent that it is causing an irreparable loss to the younger generation .
More often than not, these privately managed educational institutions as also those imparting some professional education enjoy the patronage of some influential politicians and many of them are even owned by them. Many such institutions are virtually non existent and are functioning as commercial shops, enabling the students to get degrees on payment of huge sums in blatant violation of the government rules, regulations and norms. The magnitude of this white collar criminality has adversely affected the standard of education in most States and therefore, the problem needs to be tackled through stringent statutory measures.
White collar crimes are also rampant in business world. There have always been instances of violation of trust. Sutherland made a careful study of a number of large. corporations and business houses in United States and found that they were involved in illegal contracts, combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade, misrepresentation in advertising, infringements against copyrights and trade marks, unfair labour practices, bribing public officials and so on. The public hardly knows the trickery of business criminals as they treat, it as not too important for their purpose.
Sutherland attributed the highest degree of criminality to business world which includes traders, businessmen and industrialists. It has been held that "business communities in India of large and small merchants are basically dishonest bunch of crooks nowhere in the world do businessmen get rich so qiuckly as they do in India"
The Report of the Monopolies Inquiry Commission expressed great concern about the chronic problem of hoarding, profiteering and black marketing of essential commodities by traders in India. In times of shortage and scarcity of consumer commodities, the traders withdraw the stock and subsequently dispose it of at exorbitant prices .
The Santhanam Committee Report on Prevention of Corruption, observed that Indian businessmen build up secret hoards of foreign exchange abroad through under invoicing of exports and over invoicing of imports violating the Imports & Exports Laws and Foreign Exchange Regulations .
Although bribery is an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and both, bribe taker as well as the bribe giver are equally punishable, but commercial agents and public officials indulge in illegal gratification for their personal gain and the legal restraints provided for the purpose are hardly adequate to cure this menace. It may, however, be pointed out that all bribery cases are not necessarily white collar crimes because white collar criminality is confined to only those illegal activities which the persons of prestigious group high social states commit in course, of their legitimate business or occupation for financial gain.
Adulteration of edible foodstuffs is also frequently committed by businessmen which is injurious to public health. The sale and production of spurious drugs and sub standard medicines by manufacturers is yet another white collar crime which enables businessmen to earn huge illegal profits .
White collar crimes also operate in insurance business where both the insure d as well as insurer earn considerable profit by making false and fabricated claims. Instances are not wanting when intentional house burning, automobile destruction and even murders are planned by the persons of respectable community in order to make good fortunes from the manipulated insurance claims.
The latest developments in information technology and electronic media especially during 1990's have given rise to a new variety of computer related white collar crime which is commonly called cyber crimes. The widespread growth of these crimes has become a matter of global concern and a challenge for the law enforcement agencies in the new millennium. Because of the peculiar nature of these crimes, they can be committed anonymously and far away from the victim; without being physically present there. Further, cyber criminals have a major advantage; they can use computer technology to inflict damage without the risk of being caught. The cyber crimes cover a wide range of illegal computer related activities which include offences such as theft of communication services, industrial espionage , dissemination of pornographic and sexually offensive material in cyber space, electronic money laundering and tax evasion, electronic vandalism, terrorism and extortion, tele marketing frauds, illegal interception of telecommunication, etc .
In fact, there is a cyber crime wave in the 21st century. Presently, viruses are the most common problems which are causing serious damage to computer systems. Most viruses just replicate themselves, but many also cause damage. T here are now more 'than 5000 different strains of viruses,. across the globe. For instance, 'Love Bug' virus of May 2000 caused severe damage to working internet sites, So also the virus recently developed by Pakistan has defaced the Indian web site.
Besides virus, there are some common cyber offences which are directed, against computer systems, networks or data. Notable among them are:
(1) Pheakering;: It is a way to circumvent the billing mechanism of, telephones allowing anyone to call anywhere in the world literally without any cost.
(2) Internet frauds: Cyber space now provides a wide variety of investment opportunities opening new areas for deceit or, fraud. Electronic funds transfer systems have begun to proliferate, hence there is risk of transactions being intercepted or diverted. Now a days valid credit card numbers can be intercepted electronically as well as physically and the digital information stored on a card can be counterfeited.
(3) Hackers: Hacker is one, who enjoys ex programmable systems and knows, how to strelet their capacity, computer hackers may affect the commercial web sits. or e mail systems thus paralysing the entire business.
(4), Stalking: In stalking, persistent messages. are, sent, to unwilling recipients thus causing them annoyance, worry and mental torture.
(5) E mail security invasion It means to encrypt the E mail and, make it private and non viewable to others.
(6) Money Laundering: It is a kind of cyber crime in which money is illegally down loaded in transit.
(7) Data Diddling It mean's changing or erasing of data in subtle ways which makes it difficult to put the data back or be certain of its accuracy.
It may be stated that just as the legitimate organisations in the private or public .sector rely upon information systems for communication or record keeping so too the cyber criminal organisations carry on their illegal activities by enhanced cyber space technology. Commenting on this Eric Ellen, one of the officials of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has predicted that information technology is not only reshaping the mode, of corporate functioning and emerging new business strategies but it is dramatically increasing the number of potential cyber criminals, According, to him, there is bound to be simultaneous increase in the incidence of cyber crimes with the new internet sites and users which currently totals around 2l5 million worldwide .
Since cyber criminals pose a major threat to computer networks all around. the world, efforts are being made to workout a Model Anti cyber Criminal Law to arrest cyber crimes at global level. A special expert Working Group meeting was convened in October, 1998 in Tokyo under the auspices of the United Nations to sort out legal problems involved in combating trans Border cyber criminality.
The European Committee of Experts on Crime in Cyber space has prepared two Draft Conventions on Cyber crimes in April 2001 to work, out strategies and fostering international co operation for tackling the problem of security against cyber crimes.
Experience has shown that the real problem for every organization that investigates cyber crime is the lack of Uniformity in laws against States and countries. There, is also general lack of protection in this area of crime. Most of the cases of illegal access or damages remain unreported due to victim's fear of exposure or loss Of public faith and confidence.
In view of the expanding dimensions of cyber crimes, there is urgent need for a model legislation to tackle the growing incidence of these crimes. It hardly needs to be stated that the criminal law must continue to evolve if it is to adequately address to new developments in technology.
It must be noted that white collar criminality has a close affinity to the attitudes and values of culture in a particular society. This is evident from the fact that white collar criminals are intelligent, stable, and successful and men of high social status as compared with the ordinary criminals. They are foresighted persons belonging to the prestigious group of society. White collar crimes which are committed in commercial world are indirect, anonymous, impersonal and difficult to detect. As against this, ordinary criminals commit crime which are direct and involve physical action, such as. Beating, removal of property or use of force, etc. which can be easily be identified and detected. It is often said that ordinary crimes which are otherwise called ‘blue collar crimes’ are more common with the under-privileged group while the white collar crime are committed by the privileged group who belong to the upper strata of society. Edwin Sutherland, however, suggests that status alone is not determinant of white collar or blue collar crime. This is evident from the fact that even the most privileged and prestige persons may commit heinous crime such as murder, rape or kidnapping for which they can be severely punished, while on the other hand, most under-privileged people may be involved in a white collar crime like tax evasion, corruption or misrepresentation which may not be looked as serious offence. This however, does not mean that white collar crimes are petty offences because they do not carry severe punishment. Undoubtly, the penologist hitherto confined their attention to prevention of ordinary crimes but the recent penal programmes sufficiently indicate emphasis has now shifted to suppression of white collar criminality with the equal vigor and strength. The amendment s introduced in the Indian Companies Act in 1988, Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1992, Insurance and banking Laws, the appointment of Lokpal, Lokayukta and tightening og governmental control over private business groups sufficiently reflect upon the government’s determination to suppress white collar criminality in India.
There is much resemblance between white collar crime and blue collar crime, both owe their origin to common Law and are adaptations of principles of theft, fraud etc. to modern socio-economic institutions and in fact there is no basic difference between the two. The only peculiarity of white collar crime is that it is committed by the persons of relatively high status of society. The criminal content in both the types is more or less common. It must, however, be noted that mens rea or guilty mind is an essential ingredient of every blue collar crime but many statutes dealing with white collar crime do not require mens rea in strict sense of the term. The doctrine of constructive mens rea.applies in such cases.
It must be stated that besides being a social problem, white collar crime is also a legal problem. As E H. Sutherland rightly puts it, no distinction in terms of social status, occupational activity, attitude or gravity of consequences can separate white collar crime from those of traditional crime . The only distinguishing feature of this type of crime is the temptation for considerable material gain with little or no loss of status. This again, gives a misleading impression that the executive and judicial authorities who are concerned with the prevention of crime react favourably to the upper and middle class society and dispose of white collar criminals with mere censure or admonition while other criminals are subjected td severe penal sanctions under the law without being given any pre warning. But that the reason for this soft attitude of law makers and prosecutors towards white collar criminals is perhaps the latter's closer contacts with agencies of social control on account of their social status and privileged position. More often than not, these criminals are friendly with the top ranking public officials. That apart, the impact of white collar crime is so widely diffused in a large number of people that it does not aggravate the feelings of one single individual . Therefore, the public cry against white collar criminality is far less than for the predatory crimes.
Commenting on the preponderance of white collar crime in the modern time Edwin Sutherland rightly comments that, "social disorganization on account of individualistic policies and competitive economy are the root causes for this type of criminality". It is rather a reflection on society's attitude towards different types of crimes and the accepted values of its culture.
The financial cost of white collar crime is probably several times greater than that of all the, crimes taken together. In a recent study it has been concluded the financial loss to society from white collar crime is far greater than the financial loss from the predatory crimes committed by persons of lower socio economic status. It has been further concluded that the average loss per burglary is less than ten thousand rupees and a burglary which yields as much as one lakh of rupees is exceedingly rare. On the other hand, there may be several crores rupees embezzlements reported in one year. Notably, these embezzlements are nothing as compared with the large scale crimes committed by corporations, investment trusts and public utility concerns. It can, therefore, be inferred that white collar criminals violate trust and create distrust which lowers social morale and results into social disorganization to a large extent while other crimes produce, relatively little effect on social institutions.
By way of generalization it may be stated that like other criminal behavior, white collar criminality can best be explained through the process of differential association. It is a generic explanation for both white collar as also the blue collar criminality. Those who become white collar criminals generally start their career in good neighborhoods and good homes, well educated with some idealism and get into peculiar business situations in which criminality is practically a routine way of life. Another explanation for white collar criminality is to be found in the process of social disorganization in the community .
White-collar crime is a very much part of our social scene today and the issue before is how can we tackle this? The first point to recognise is that while the blue-collar crime is gruesome, well known and has an immediate impact, it is the white-collar crime which has greater anti-social impact . In the wake of growing "white collar" crime globally, the CBI has formed an "Economic Intelligence Wing" to tackle it even as list of run away economic offenders was being readied for extradition. wing had been formed to tackle the growing menace of economic crime as it had developed a dangerous trend of financing terrorist crimes with September 11 attacks in US as a pointer. CBI has recruited a senior official of Reserve Bank of India as a technical officer to the wing along with some Deputy Inspectors General of the agency who have been specialising in probing economic offences, the sources said. The first and foremost task of the wing is to track down economic offenders who have fled the country after committing a crime and duping banks and other financial institutions of crores of rupees. The wing has been tasked to gather intelligence and also share and act on information being provided by organisations like Stock Exchange Board of India and Intelligence Bureau .
Further the government is also enacting some fresh legislation in order to nap the ‘white collar’ criminals. Recently Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, today said that the Government would soon introduce a legislation on Serious Frauds Office (SFO) to track white-collar crimes, even as Parliament today approved the legislation to give more teeth to the market regulator SEBI including search and seizure powers .
In a country like India where large scale starvation, mass illiteracy and ignorance affect the life of the people, white collar crimes are bound to multiply in large proportion. Control of these crimes is a crucial problem for the criminal justice administration in this country. However, some of the remedial measures for combating white collar criminality may be stated as follows
1 . Creating public awareness against these crimes through the media of press, platform and other audio visual aids. An intensive legal literacy programmes may perhaps help in reducing the incidence of white collar criminality to a considerable extent.
2. Special tribunals should be constituted with power to award sentence of imprisonment upto ten years for white collar criminals.
3. Stringent regulatory laws and drastic punishment for white collar criminals may help in reducing these crimes. Even legislations with retrospective operation may be justified for this purpose,
4. A separate chapter on white collar crimes should be incorporated in the Indian Penal Code by amending the Code so that white collar criminals who are convicted by the court do not escape punishment because of' their high social status.
5. White collar offenders should be dealt with sternly by prescribing stiffer punishments keeping in view the gravity of injury caused to society because of these crimes. The Supreme Court, in M. H. Haskot v. State of Maharashtra in this context observed, "soft sentencing justice is gross injustice where many innocents are the potential victims".
6. There is an urgent need for a National Crime Commission which may squarely tackle the problem of crime and criminality in all its facets.
7. Above all, public vigilance seems to be the cornerstone of anti white collar crime strategy. Unless white collar crimes become abhorrent to public mind, it will not be possible to contain this growing menace. In order to attain this objective, there is need for strengthening of morals particularly, in the higher strata and among the public services. It is further necessary to evolve sound group norms and service ethics based on the twin concepts of absolute honesty and integrity for the' sake of national welfare. This is possible through character building At grass root level and inculcating a sense of real concern for the nation among youngsters so that they are prepared and trained for an upright living when they enter the public life.
Finally, it must be stated that a developing country like India where population is fast escalating, economic offences are increasing by leaps and bound besides the traditional crimes. These are mostly associated with middle and upper class of society and have added new chapter to criminal jurisprudence. To a great extent they are an outcome of industrial and commercial development and progress of science and new technology. With the growing materialism all around the world acquisition of more and more wealth has become the final end of human , activity, Consequently, moral values have either changed or thrown, to winds and fraud, adulteration, misappropriation, misrepresentation, corruption, evasion of tax etc. have become the techniques of trade, commerce and profession. It is for the criminal law administrators to contain the tendency by stringent legislative measures. It is rather disappointing to note that though white collar crimes such as black market activities, evasive price violations, rent-ceiling violations, rationing-law violations, illegal financial manoeuvres etc. by the businessmen are widespread in society, no effective program for repressing them so far been launched by the law enforcement agencies. Perhaps the reason for white collar crimes being carried on unabated is that these crimes are committed generally by influential persons who are shrewd enough to resist the efforts of law, enforcement against them.



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