There are certain anti-social activities which the persons of upper strata carry on in course of their occupation or business. These anti-social activities are called white-collar crime. 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. E. H. Sutherland defined a white-collar criminal as a person of the upper socio-economic class who violates the criminal law in the course of his occupational or professional activities. White-collar crime was more dangerous to society than ordinary crimes because of greater financial losses and because of the damage inflicted on public morals.
White-collar crime is pervasive in almost all the professions and occupations in our society. The problem is quite acute, both in terms of variety and the extent of white-collar criminality. The report of Santhanam Committee in its findings gave a vivid picture of white-collar crimes committed by persons of respectability such as businessmen, industrialist, contractors and suppliers as also the corrupt public officials.
The white-collar crimes which are common to-Indian trade and business world are hoardings profiteering and black marketing. Violation of foreign exchange regulations (i e. FERA) and import and export laws are frequently resorted to for the sake of huge profits. Further, adulteration of foodstuffs, edibles and drugs which causes irreparable damage to public health is yet another white-collar crime common in India.
The complexity of tax-laws in India has provided sufficient scope for the tax-payers to evade taxes. It is to be noted that tax-evasion is illegal, but tax-avoidance not. Tax-evasion implies non-payment of tax due to be paid, the tax-avoidance signifies arranging the spread over of ones income in such a way that it does not incur tax-liability legally and lawfully. In the profession of medicine, most common instances of white-collar criminality are illegal abortions, false medical certificates and unnecessary prolonged treatment in many cases. The usual legal and professional violations committed by lawyers are : advising organized criminals, aiding in performing false claims, engaging professional witness, fabricating false evidence etc. In the engineering profession, understand dealing with contractors and suppliers, passing of sub-standard works and materials and maintenance of bogus records of work. Charged labour are some of the common examples of white-collar crime.
Corruption is also a well known white-collar crime. It is not limited to the concept of bribes of illegal gratification taken by public servants.
In its wider sense, corruption includes all forms of dishonest gains in cash, kind or position by persons in government and those associated with public and political affairs. The two government departments which have been traditionally notorious for corruptions in the country are those of police and public works.
There are some of the remedial measures for combating white-collar criminality, which are, creating public awareness against these crimes through the media of press, and other audio-visual aids and legal literacy programmes. Special Tribunals should be constituted with power to award sentence of imprisons upto 5 years for white-collar crimes. Convictions should result in heavy fines rather than arrest and detention of white-collar criminals. And public vigilance seems to be corner-stone of anti-white-collar crime strategy. Unless people strongly detest such crimes, it will not be possible to contain this growing menace.
In India 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 services ethics based on the concepts of absolute honesty and integrity for the sake of national welfare. This is possible through character building at grass-root level and inculcating feeling of real concern for the motherland among youngsters so that they are prepared for an upright living when they enter real life.