It is a fallacy to believe that only humans are capable of committing a crime. An artificial person, like a firm, company or corporation, is a separate legal entity that can also commit a crime.
When it comes to white collar crimes, India is not an unknown territory. In fact, considering the number of corporate scams appearing every day and affecting the general economy and welfare of the state , it is a serious contemporary issue due to the multifaceted components involved in the nature of such crimes.
In the current environment, corporate criminal liability must be enhanced. The phenomenon of corporate criminality arose in the 20th century. The corporate world has a significant impact on our lives, whether directly or indirectly. With the growth of corporations, they do play an important role in our economy. Nevertheless, our society faces the risk of being exploited by these corporations, thus they must be deterred too. Laws pertaining to corporate criminal liability are being strengthened, notably in the aftermath of the Bhopal gas tragedy. However, it is still in its infancy.
The issue of corporation’s criminal liability for offences committed by its directors, managers, officers and other personnel while doing corporate business has attracted a lot of attention in criminal law jurisprudence. The prospect of establishing criminal liability on a corporation is predicated on its independence. The paper identifies if whether a corporation, as an artificial person, is capable of committing a crime and hence subject to criminal liability under the law and also examines the place of the legal maxim ‘actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea’ which means that act is not wrongful unless it is done with a wrongful state of mind.
The traditional belief was that a company could not commit a crime since criminal liability needed intent, which could not be formed by a corporation without a mind. A corporation also lacked a body that could be imprisoned. The paper seeks to shade light on the evolution of corporate criminal liability in India and its various legal facets. It further determines the jurisprudential standing in contemporary India. Ultimately, it provides suggestions to curb white collar crimes.