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The IUP Journal of Law Review :
Economic Crime and Punishment: A Legal Perspective
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Crime speaks of the degree of moral integrity of a society, and often depends, to a certain extent, on the culture of the society. Corruption has no race, religion, territory, sex or place of birth. It is all-pervasive and omniscient and is becoming omnipotent. Ironically, society views traditional criminals as those clad in terrifying blood-red color and calls them ‘condemned’, whereas those in high echelons committing colossal frauds are seen as gentlemen and hence their crimes are respectfully designated as ‘white collar crimes’. And so gracefully, the destiny of ordinary criminals is crematorium whereas the destiny of the elite economic offenders is moratorium.

 
 
 

Civilization has brought innumerable gifts to human race—scientific, industrial and intellectual, which have brought along corruption. The value-based society in the modern world considers crime as a moral deviance against the collective conscience of humanity. Crime is an ever-changing dilemma. The concept of crime has been undergoing drastic revolution and the philosophy of crime and punishment is becoming more relative to the changing contours of law of life and law in society.

Prior to 1700, crime was considered as an offshoot of sin, and it is only in the 18th century that a systematic study of the crime commenced, distinguishing itself from sin. And in the 19th century, criminology distinguished itself as a subspecialty within the emerging disciplines of psychology, sociology and economics. In the 20th century, criminology began to assert its independence from the traditional disciplines that spawned it.

Crime speaks of the degree of moral integrity of a society, and often depends, to a certain extent, on the culture of the society. Criminologists like John Hagan1 hold that crime is a type of social deviance that is singled out for public punishment; and ‘non-criminal’ forms of deviance like mental illness and sexual pleasures of consenting adults—are neither a matter of public scrutiny nor the subject of punishment. Cavan,2 another criminologist, observes two types of deviances in ‘Inuit communities’ i.e., ‘Private Wrongs’ and ‘Public Crimes’ with the distinction based on the perceived threat to community survival. For example, Inuit culture involved the acceptability of extramarital sexual relationships if authorized by the wife-lending husband. When not so arranged, these liaisons could be considered as deviant behavior that could authorize the offended-husband to avenge the death of the ‘offending man’. Thus, the ‘non-criminal’ deviance in Inuit culture converts the ‘private wrong’ into ‘public crime’ when the behavior involved is conceived as a threat to the welfare or survival of the group itself. The crime of corruption in India may perhaps be surviving drawing its spirit from the Inuit culture. But time is ripe now to drive out the devil of corruption from our society.

 
 
 

Law Review Journal, Protection, Economic Crime, Punishment, A Legal Perspective, Civilization, Criminologists, Public Crimes, Private Wrongs, Conventional Crime, Economic Crime, Functional, Money Laundering.