what is white collar crime in India ?

Meaning Of White Collar Crime

White collar crimes involve criminal activities committed by people in the regular course of their business and involve bribery, extortion, fraud and embezzlement. These crimes usually end in financial gain for the perpetrator.

This notion was laid down for the first time in the field of criminology by Prof. Edwin Sutherland in 1941. He defined white collar crime as “crime committed by persons of respectability and high social status in course of their occupation”. Examples of it include fraudulent advertisements, infringement of patents, publication of falsified balance sheet of business, passing of goods, concealment of defects in the commodity for sale etc. These white collar crimes by nature are such that the injury or the damage caused as a consequence of them is so widely diffused in the large body of citizens that their enormity as regards personage victim is almost trifling.

White collar crimes are criminal acts that are performed by people in the course of business committed for financial gain.

Types of White Collar Crime In India

The white collar crimes which are common to Indian trade and business world are hoardings, 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 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.”

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.

 Bank Fraud: To engage in an act or pattern of activity where the purpose is to defraud a bank of funds.

Blackmail: A demand for money or other consideration under threat to do bodily harm, to injure property, to accuse of a crime, or to expose secrets.

 Bribery: When money, goods, services, information or anything else of value is offered with intent to influence the actions, opinions, or decisions of the taker. You may be charged with bribery whether you offer the bribe or accept it.

 Cyber Crimes :Where computer hackers steal information sources contained on computers such as: bank information, credit cards, and proprietary information. Counterfeiting: Occurs when someone copies or imitates an item without having been authorized to do so and passes the copy off for the genuine or original item. Counterfeiting is most often associated with money however can also be associated with designer clothing, handbags and watches.

 Credit Card Fraud: The unauthorized use of a credit card to obtain goods of value.

 Currency Schemes: The practice of speculating on the future value of currencies.

 Educational Institutions: Yet another field where collar criminals operate with impunity are the privately run educational institutional in this country. The governing bodies of those institutions manage to secure large sums by way of government grants of 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.

Embezzlement: When a person who has been entrusted with money or property appropriates it for his or her own use and benefit.

Extortion: Occurs when one person illegally obtains property from another by actual or threatened force, fear, or violence, or under cover of official right.

 Forgery: When a person passes a false or worthless instrument such as a check or counterfeit security with the intent to defraud or injure the recipient.

 Insider Trading: When a person uses inside, confidential, or advance information to trade in shares of publicly held corporations.

Money Laundering: The investment or transfer of money from racketeering, drug transactions or other embezzlement schemes so that it appears that its original source either cannot be traced or is legitimate.

 Securities Fraud: The act of artificially inflating the price of stocks by brokers so that buyers can purchase a stock on the rise.

Tax Evasion: When a person commits fraud in filing or paying taxes. 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, engineers, contractors etc. The main difficulty posed before the Income Tax Department is to know the real and exact income of these


Criminal offences, in India, have been codified in the Indian Penal Code of 1860, which covers most of the above said white collar crimes and defines the punishments for the commission/attempt of those offences. Other offences are governed by their respective field of enactments.

The crime is no less heinous than putting an end to the life of a person. A large number of suicides which follow such white collared crime is indicative of the magnitude of the crime involved. Therefore, the fact that a maximum punishment of 7 years is prescribed for a single offence of cheating cannot be pressed into service by the petitioners for seeking relief.


It is required to take note of the investigation made by the State agency for such type of alleged white-collar crimes. The investigation for the white collar crimes must be conducted by highly trained Investigating Officer, who are well conversant with the system and the field in which the crime has been committed. In the present case, it is the banking in cooperative field. Not only that, but for detection of while collar crimes, it is expected for the State to undertake the investigation through ultra modern machineries like lie detector test, narco test etc. Not only that, but normally in the matter of investigation of while collar crimes running into crores of rupees, it would be expected for the Investigating Officer to immediately intimate the concerned Airport Authorities, so that the accused may not fly away, outside the territory of the country. In the same manner, the I.O. conducting the investigation for white collar crimes running into crores of rupees has to take immediate steps for intimating the concerned bankers, so that the accused may not withdraw and convert the money in such a manner which makes the things irreversible, even if subsequently found that on the date of the complaint, the money realized out of the white collar crime should be made available to the victims of such crimes as an outcome of the trial.

Bail in White Collar Crimes Cases in India.

Bail law on economic and white collar offences is well delineated and no more res integra. Echoing the concern for economic offences, which are more dangerous and having far reaching impact on society than bodily offences, Honble Apex Court and several High Courts have held that in dealing with such bail applications, Courts are required to analyze and evaluate certain relevant factors cautiously.

As held in the matter of : Mallampati Gandhi S/O. Naga Raju vs The State Of Telangana

The Hon’ble Apex Court further held that an economic offence is committed with cool calculation and deliberate design with an eye on personal profit regardless of the consequence to the Community. A disregard for the interest of the Community can be manifested only at the cost of forfeiting the trust and faith of the Community in the system to administer justice in an even handed manner without fear of criticism from the quarters which view white collar crimes with a permissive eye unmindful of the damage done to the National Economy and National Interest. The Hon’ble Apex Court has further held that economic offences constitute a class apart and need to be visited with a different approach in the matter of bail held in the matter of Murthy.V.K vs The State

White Collar Crimes related judgments:

  1. Narinderjit Singh Sahni And Anr vs Union Of India And Ors: SC
  2. Noormohmed Jamalbhai Latiwala vs State Of Gujarat : Gujrat High Court.
  3. V.K vs The State : Madras High Court.