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Introduction to Socio-Economic Offences

Introduction to Socio-Economic Offences


YouTube video link on this topic is shared below:

About the Author:
Prof.(Dr.) Priya Sepaha
Director, Law Colloquy,
Author, Trainer, blogger, Youtuber


Broadly there are two types of offences:

Causes Of Socio-economic Offences

In India, socio-economic offences can be outlined, after the World War. There was a scarcity of essential and basic needs after the war, which caused an increasing demand for such things and resulted in avarice among the businessmen. Gradually these factors developed these types of offences, which subsequently breed after freedom and Partition of India, due to lack of proper legal and administrative control. Later on, this problem increased and after the urbanization, these offences became rampant in India. The major cause of this offences are:-

  1. Industrial revolution,

  2. Transition from rural and traditional society to industrialized society,

  3. extreme business competitiveness

  4. Technological and scientific developments

  5. Decline in ethical, moral and spiritual values

  6. Materialistic happiness and the greed for money

  7. State’s attitude of “laissez fair” philosophy

  8. lack of any intensive and organized public resentment.

When the above factors were influencing the country the Government started to recognize these problems and appointed different committees to investigate the matter and tried to control the situation by implementing some measures as can be found from the reports of these committees.

The Santhanam Committee Report,1964

In 1962, Lal Bahadur Sastri appointed Santhanam to preside over the committee on anti-corruption. Because of its thorough investigative work and recommendations, the Committee earned a reputation as Santhanam's Committee on Anti-Corruption. In his 'Code of Conduct for persons in power, authority or positions of trust in our country', he explicitly included ministers and members of Parliament and state legislatures. There should be no use of position for personal or family advantage; no actions motivated by considerations of party, religion, caste, or community; no unofficial dealings with businessmen or hospitality or gifts accepted from them or other private persons.

Although there is no prescribed definition of it 47th Law Commission the report explains the term as follows:-

47th Law Commission Report

  • In these types of offences the mens rea is not lust, hate, revenge, etc. like any other criminal act rather it is greed.

  • Usually, in these types of offences the victim is mainly public at large, especially the consuming public and even though if there is no harm to any particular person, but the harm is caused to the society which has a very large impact upon the society,

  • The mode of these type of offences is fraud generally and not force,

  • The act which results in the commission of these type of offences is generally a deliberate and willful act,

Overlapping With Other Terms/Offence

The term ‘socio-economic offence’ should be contrasted and if and when necessary, differentiated from terms (which are its manifestations) like

‘white-collar crimes’,
‘victimless crimes’,
‘public welfare offences’,
‘organized crime’,
‘corporate crime’,
‘statutory offences’,
‘economic crime’,
‘regulatory offences’,
‘civil offences’ etc.
‘quasi-criminal offences’,
‘anti-social offences’,

The overlapping nature of several conducts within these categories makes it difficult to classify offences under them. If socio-economic offences are defined as those which affect the socio-economic condition in the country, all criminal statutes, both major and minor, will find its way into the list.

Types of Socio-economic offences:-

(1) Offences calculated to prevent or obstruct the economic development of the country and endanger its economic health:- it can be found that it is a very wide category where the test is only to determine whether the economic development and the economic health of a country are being endangered for the commission of the offence or not.

(2) Evasion and avoidance of taxes lawfully imposed:- This is particularly dealt with by Income Tax Act, 1961:- There are cases where the tax evasion has correctly and firmly disapproved by the court. It is pertinent to mention here that tax evasion actually shows the defects which are present in the enforcement of the law.

(3) Misuse of their position by public servants in the making of contracts and disposal of public property, issue of licenses and permits and similar other matters:- This actually commits one of the social and economic offences, and they specifically misuse their public position while making contracts and dealing with the matters relating to disposal of public property.

(4) Delivery by individuals and industrial and commercial undertakings of goods not in accordance with agreed specifications in fulfillment of contracts entered into with public authorities:- which are not in accordance with the previously agreed specifications while fulfilling the contracts which are entered into with a public authority.

(5) Profiteering, black marketing, and hoarding:-

Profiteering means the act of selling anything in such a rate which is in excess to the controlled price of that thing, and hoarding is the acts of storing anything in excess to the permissible quantity is meant and black-marketing is illegal traffic or trade in officially controlled or scarce commodities.

(6) Adulteration of foodstuff and drugs:- It has become a very common problem. It had started after the industrialization took place in the 20th century. It is not only the problem in India, rather there are so many countries suffering from the same problem.

(7) The offences which are related to theft as well as misappropriation of the properties or funds which actually belongs to the public:- Previously the Indian Penal Code, with the help of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 and some special enactments enacted to deal with the problems, tried to fight with these offences and tried to curb the problem. But as there were many loopholes in the previous Act of 1947, the Act was amended and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 came into force to effectively fight with these evils.

(8) Trafficking in licenses and permits etc.:- the acts which include the outright sale of the licenses, as well as permits, are meant, whereby these licenses and permits any other person is allowed, apart from the person who is intended, to enjoy the benefits accruing from the licenses as well as permits. The laws relating to the imports try to control the situation relating to these offences in India.

So, these are the different categories of social and economic offences which are causing harm to the country.

Notions Of Privileged Class Deviance In The India Context

1. Essential commodities act and prevention of black marketing and maintenance of supplies of essential commodities- The main aim of the Act is to provide food supply to the consumers and to protect them from the exploitation of unscrupulous traders.

2. Food safety and standards act, 2006

The implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 has consolidated eight laws governing the food sector and establishes the Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSA) as the regulator.

They are:-

(a) The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
(b) The Fruit Products Order, 1955.
(d) The Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947.
(c) The Meat Food Products Order, 1973.
(f) The Solvent Extracted Oil, De oiled Meal, and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967.
(e) The Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1998.
(h) Any other order issued under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, relating to food.
(g) The Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992.

The objective of the food law is to make available safe, pure, wholesome, and nutritious food to the public. The said Act consolidates all the previously existing laws relating to food and establishes the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for laying down science-based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import, to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. It also provides for penalty in case the food standards are not in conformity with the provisions of the Act and also brings within its penal ambit any act which deceives the consumer with regard to food items.

3. Income tax act, 1961

Among the economic offences, tax evasion is the most illegitimate activity which is practiced by suppressing the facts and manipulation of records by corporate houses, professionals, and other eligible taxpayers. This Act is the charging Statute of Income Tax in India. It provides for levy, administration, collection, and recovery of Income Tax.

4. Conservation of foreign exchange and prevention of smuggling activities act, 1974 (COFEPOSA)

The aim of the act is to provide for preventive detention in certain cases for the purposes of conservation and augmentation of foreign exchange and prevention of smuggling activities. The preamble to the Act also mentions that it is necessary to detain people for the effective prevention of such activities.

5. Foreign exchange regulation act (FERA) and foreign exchange management act (FEMA)

To consolidate and amend the law relating to foreign exchange with the objective of facilitating external trade and payments and for promoting the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India.

6. Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

It is commonly referred to as the NDPS Act, is an Act of the Parliament of India that prohibits a person to produce/manufacture/cultivate, possess, sell, purchase, transport, store, and/or consume any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.

7. Prevention of corruption act, 1988

Corruption is considered to be one of the worst socio-economic crimes and is the greatest impediment on the way towards progress for developing countries like India. It was enacted to combat corruption in government agencies and public sector businesses in India. One of the important steps in this regard was enlarging the scope of the definition of the expression ‘Public Servant’. This Act discusses various offences and penalties.

8. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

This Act prohibits the practice of giving or taking of dowry by either party to a marriage. This law also punishes demanding and advertising dowry. It imposes a duty on parties to get married to make a list of gifts and presents. If dowry has been exchanged at a wedding anyway, it imposes a duty on the person who is given dowry to give it to the bride.

9. Immoral traffic prevention act, 1956 (pita)

The Act intends to combat trafficking and sexual exploitation for commercial purposes. The Act leads to the codification of the laws that lays down rules and regulations regarding the sensitive issues of prostitution. It protects women and children from forceful flesh trade. This leads to the reduction of objectification of women and children.

The State Government may in its discretion establish as many protective homes and corrective institutions under this Act as it thinks fit and such homes and institutions, when established, shall be maintained in such manner as may be prescribed.


Socio-economic offences are those offences which are degrading society socially and economically. Greed for money is the main reason behind this. This is often confused with other such offences but has a thin line difference with them. Many majors have been taken by the government from time to time to curb this problem but still, a lot is needed to improve the condition.