Why should giving bribe be legalised?
Though this may seem like a pretty odd suggestion, if we legalise giving bribe, we can actually lower the bribery instances taking place in the Economy. Let me explain:
I advocate that giving of bribe should be legalised, but the taking of bribe should still be considered a crime.
There are different types of a bribes offered, what I am referring to over here is the “harassment bribe” which is usually noticed on day to day basis when one is caught by traffic police or for carrying out any normal procedure at public government offices.
The main law concerned with bribery in India is the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 which declares both, giving and taking of bribe as a crime. Because of this, after the act of taking a bribe is taken place, it is in the interest of both the giver and the taker of bribe not to disclose it before the law, since it will lead to a punishment of both parties. ( In the context of game theory, it is called “Nash Equilibrium”)
Rather, if we make giving of bribe legal, the interests of the two parties, after the act of bribe, are at divergence. Now, since the giver of bribe won’t have the fear of punishment for disclosing bribe before the law, it will be in the interest of him to get the bribe-taker punished.
When such law is in existence, the taker of a bribe (for example:- A traffic police) will already be aware that the giver of bribe now has more power in his hands to get him punished. This will automatically deter the taker of bribe to take a bribe in the first place and hence, the overall incidents of “harassment bribes” will be lowered.
However, such a suggestion is only confined to “harassment bribes” which take place on a day to day basis. Other instances where the amount of bribe is very large, legalising bribe may not work.
Whose idea was it?
This was the novel idea presented by Prof. Kaushik Basu while he was serving as the Chief Economic Advisor at the Ministry of Finance. It received criticism and applause at the same time and remained in public debate for a while. Even though the idea had some inherent weaknesses, the point of appreciation is that we do provide space for such creative ideas to come up and discuss it; that too at the top posts of the government.
The point to note here is that the government is not able to bring in control the number of bribing incidents taking place, so it should surely give fair consideration to this proposal and stop the day to day bribes people give.