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Beneath the Surface of Power Relations: Understanding the Dynamics of Abuse

Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power"[1]- James Madison

The theory of abuse of power stems back to Plato's Republic, which described it as unjust use of power or authority. It would also include definitions for key terms such as exploitation and manipulation.

Some people think that abuse is only physical; however, psychological abuse can be worse in some ways. There's more to it than that. Abuse of power is the dominance or control over another by the use of threats or violence. It can be physical, psychological, sexual, or financial. Abuse of power occurs when an organization puts the personal agenda of a leader over the needs of employees and customers. That can include internal corruption, political infighting, and self-dealing. Simply said, Abuse of power refers to the use of power unfairly to advance an individual, an organization, or a regime.

There are several different ways to define "abuses of power", including "white-collar crime", "economic crime", "organized crime", "labor crime", "public corruption", as well as "governmental" and "corporate" deviation. The community element of the crime is trumped. Although such actions have been carried out since the earliest history, recent technological and social "followers" have created a climate more favorable to them.[2]-

Concept Of Abuse Of Power

Abuse is defined in reference to how it is used or according to the circumstances. the inappropriate or unsuitable use of the authority that he or she has for a legitimate task or when exercising official authority. According to its derivation, the Latin word "abusus," which denotes improper, excessive, or unfair usage, is where the word "abuse" originated. Abuse, according to Webster's Dictionary, is defined as utilizing something improperly or for the wrong purposes.

Abuse is defined as the improper use, handling, or application of anything for a bad purpose, such as when we violate someone's civil rights, their right to practice their religion, or a societal standard. Power abuse is a nebulous and excessively generic concept. In general, the abuse may lie as much in the means employed as it does in the goals.

Abuse of power may occur when legitimate means are employed to further unlawful ends, unlawful means are employed to further legitimate ends, or legitimate means are employed to further entirely legitimate and admirable objectives. Torture is a cruel treatment, regardless of whether it is done to get information or seek justice. However, most often, the term "abuse of power" is used to refer to the use of illegal means in order to further illegal goals, such as the use of coercive, dishonest, or corrupt methods in order to further dishonest, destructive, or outright illegal goals.

Factors That Encourage Abuse Of Power

The most common factors in developing abuse of power are 1) the boundaries of who has the power, 2) how that power is distributed, and 3) the incentives. These factors can be manipulated by two different people and they can be used to shape each other's' choices. The most common form of abuse is when one person uses his or her authority to benefit himself, but this can also apply to situations where one person uses his or her authority to benefit another person. All of these types of abuse utilize manipulation by one person to flaunt either their own needs or those of someone else for personal gain instead of for the good of everyone involved.

Types Of Abuse:

Abuse of power is generally defined as "a form of unethical conduct by which a person uses a position of influence, trust, or authority to exploit or take advantage of others. It is also the exploitation or intimidation of others by using authority, for personal gain and/or for other selfish motives." Some different types that have been mentioned are Occupational Crime, Abuse of Power in Organizations, and Governmental Corruption. Although many people use the term "corruption", there are several different types that explain these situations better.
  1. Occupational Crime.
    Occupational crime is present in any organization with a hierarchical structure where an employee can be tempted to use their position for personal gain. The inside information employees have about their firms' operations can be used to benefit themselves or in combination with personal relationships.

    The three main motives are financial, occupational, and political. The financial benefit is the most common of the motives and includes activities such as embezzlement or kickbacks, which are the taking of money by a person who has a position of trust but without reporting it. Occupational crime is related to providing less than adequate services to clients or taking work and not delivering it. These forms of abuse are present in many types of organizations but there is a higher prevalence in health care, social services, and transportation because they have less regulation than some other industries.
  2. Abuse of power in organizations.
    Abuse of power occurs in organizations: when an organization puts the personal agenda of a leader over the needs of employees and customers or when someone in a position of authority uses that power improperly to carry out an illegal act for their benefit or other purposes. Malfeasance is another term for workplace abuse of authority. Every form of abuse, including sexual assault, carelessness, and physical assault, is regarded as an abuse of power.[3]

    This happens when a person believes he/she misunderstands the true meaning of absolute power within the organization. As absolute power is not an instance where someone has total control over their surroundings, but rather it implies they have total control over other aspects, such as social status and material wealth.[4]

    This leads to:

    • Harass or bully "colleagues" or "subordinates".
    • Requesting sexual favors from coworkers or initiating unwelcome contact.
    • Requesting staff to run personal errands.
    • Disturbing and disturbing colleagues or employees and interfering with their ability to work effectively.
    • Forcing colleagues or subordinates to break workplace rules.

    Due to which:
    • Affecting employees' ability to work.
    • An abused employee finds it difficult to concentrate on work.
    • Create a stressful environment at work.
    • Loss of working hours.
    • Loss of strength or resolve. Employees who might abuse their position of power might quit their jobs or even commit suicide.
  3. Governmental Corruption/ Political Corruption.
    The exploitation of official authority for personal gain is known as corruption. When someone or something in a position of authority engages in corruption to gain unfair advantages or abuse their position for personal gain, it is dishonesty or a criminal offence. Corruption can take many different forms, from bribery to fraud and extortion, to the illegal use of insider information, abuse of power in a position of authority, or distortion of public rules and regulations. Corruption can include a variety of behaviours, including bribery, buying influence, and embezzlement. Additionally, it could involve actions that are accepted in numerous countries.[5]

    Corruption can affect anyone, including politicians, public servants, entrepreneurs, and the ordinary population. It frequently relies on professional facilitators like bankers, attorneys, accountants, and real estate agents as well as opaque financial systems and anonymous shell organisations for corruption to flourish and for the corrupt to launder and conceal their illegal money. Corruption adapts to a variety of environments and changing circumstances. In response to modifications in laws, regulations, and even technology, it may change..[6]

Types Of Abuse:

"Victims" means people who have experienced harm from acts or omissions that do not yet constitute violations of national criminal laws but of internationally recognized standards relating to human rights. This harm can include physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss, or substantial impairment of one's fundamental rights.[7] No matter if the offender is found, detained, charged, or convicted, or if the victim and the perpetrator are related in any way, a person may be deemed a victim. When applicable, the term "victim" also refers to the direct victim's immediate family or dependents as well as those who have been harmed while trying to help distressed victims or stop victimization.

States should think about including standards prohibiting abuses of power and offering victims of such abuses recourse in their national laws. Such remedies should, in particular, include restitution, recompense, and the required financial, material, medical, psychological, and social support.

States ought to think about drafting multilateral international agreements on victims. States should enact and enforce legislation prohibiting acts that constitute serious abuses of political or economic power, as well as promote policies and mechanisms for their prevention. They should also develop and make readily available appropriate rights and remedies for victims of such acts. States should review existing laws and practices regularly to ensure that they are responsive to changing circumstances.

Victims Of Abuse Of Power

James Peck
The U.S. House of Representatives impeached federal judge James H. Peck in 1830 on a charge of abuse of authority. As a result of the individual's open criticism of Peck, the man was imprisoned for contempt of court. In 1831, the U.S. Senate found him innocent with 21 votes for guilty and 22 against.[8]

George English
In 1926, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached federal judge George W. English; however, he resigned before the U.S. Senate could try him. Tyranny, oppression, and abuse of his authority were accused in one of the five articles of impeachment. By a vote of 306 to 60, the House decided to remove English from office; however, the charges were later dropped after English's departure. He had been charged with abusing the lawyers and plaintiffs who appeared before him.[9]

Donald Trump[10]
On December 18, 2019, the US House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump.

230 people voted in support of the accusation of abuse of authority, 197 people opposed it, and 1 person was present. All House Republicans and two Democrats voted against it, while Tulsi Gabbard abstained. All House Democrats, except three, and one Independent, cast votes for it. He was found not guilty on February 5, 2020, during his Senate trial.

48 senators (45 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 1 Republican) voted against the senator's acquittal on the accusation of abuse of power, while 52 senators voted in favor (All Republicans).

Article I of the two articles of impeachment claims abuse of authority.

Victims Of Crime And The Indian Criminal Justice System

India has been putting a lot of effort into developing a justice system that prioritizes assisting criminal victims. This is because the Supreme Court recognized the need of victim protection in significant rulings it made in the 1970s and 1980s. By stating that criminal victims deserve justice, the United Nations also contributed to the situation. The Indian Law Commission acknowledged the significance of aiding victims.

In a report they produced, they recommended that the court system give victims top consideration. Currently, victims frequently endure the most pain and don't have a lot of say in the legal system. They must be granted some privileges and paid for the suffering they have endured. This will ensure that everyone is treated fairly by the legal system.[11]

The Malimath Committee published a report in 2003 with recommendations for enhancing the criminal justice system. They discussed the need of including victims in the decision-making process and providing them with compensation for their suffering. In order to ensure that victims play a stronger part in the legal system, the government has changed the law. All of this is done to ensure that everyone is treated properly and receives the assistance they require.[12]

Locating Victim in the Criminal Justice Administration
  1. Role of victim in Pre Trial Process:
    When a victim of a crime, the police are frequently their first point of contact. The way the police treat individuals may dramatically change how they view the criminal justice system. Clause 4 of the UN Declaration states that victims must be given dignity, compassion, and access to justice. They should have immediate access to file complaints. Indian law permits victims of cognizable crimes to disclose information to police officers, who are then compelled by Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code to document the information and give the victim a copy of the FIR. However, some police officers might decline to file the FIR because they lack empathy for the victims' anguish and suffering.

    The victim may submit a written report to the Superintendent of Police in this situation. Police officials must also submit a FIR in instances of crimes against women, per section 166A(c) of the Indian Criminal Code. They risk a fine and a jail sentence of up to two years if they don't.

    The Supreme Court ordered police to submit First Information Reports (FIRs) in all cases that are cognizable in Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P. If not, they run the danger of departmental consequences. As an alternative, the victim may present a complaint in person before a Magistrate, who would then initiate the judicial process.

    In essence, crime victims have a right to be treated with kindness and respect in addition to having access to justice. Without delay, people should be able to raise their grievances, and the police and other authorities should take them seriously.
  2. Victim's role in investigation process:
    Crimes must be investigated by the police, but the victims are not required to be involved. Before the police file charges, victims do not have a right to information about the investigation. They are also unable to offer advice on how to conduct an investigation. This is problematic since victims frequently want assistance during this time, yet the legislation makes no mention of it. The individual who reported the offence must be informed if the police officer decides not to look into the case. The victim has a right to know if the police shut a case or if the judge decides not to take action. They might also approach the court with a complaint in an effort to have the case reopened.

Victim's Right To Compensation:

Sections 357, 357A of the Code are repositories or "stockrooms" of compensation to victims of crime.[13] According to Section 357(1)(b), the court has the authority to order a criminal defendant to compensate the victim for any harm or loss resulting from the crime by ordering them to pay a fine. The court may nonetheless order the offending party to make restitution even if they are not penalized. But occasionally, courts fail to give this rule enough consideration. They have been reminded by the Supreme Court and the High Courts that it is crucial to assist victims and that they ought to use this rule more frequently.

This rule has several restrictions, such as Section 357. However, the offender must be found guilty and sentenced before the victim can obtain compensation in a civil court. Additionally, if the guilty party files an appeal, the payment may be postponed. Additionally, the court cannot order the guilty party to pay if they lack the necessary funds. Section 357A is used in this situation. It states that the victim may still receive compensation from the state even if the guilty party cannot be identified or proven guilty. though the victim requires assistance even though the guilty party is released from custody, the court may suggest this if the compensation provided under section 357 is insufficient.

There's also something called the Victim Compensation Scheme.Each state government has a strategy in place to assist crime victims. If a victim needs assistance, they can request compensation from the government or the District Legal Services Authority. So those are the fundamentals of victim compensation.

Victims And Judicial Process:

Victims of crime have not always received adequate assistance from the law. However, things are beginning to alter. The needs of victims and their families are currently receiving more consideration from the courts.

In Hari Singh v. Sukhbir Singh[14], According to the Supreme Court, courts must take victim compensation into account. This payment is meant to assist the victim rather than serve as retribution for the offender. Additionally, it can aid in the reconciliation of both the victim and the offender.

Delhi Domestic Working Women's Forum v. Union of India[15] ruled that victims could now receive money from the offender even before the case was finished. This is referred to as interim payment. The perpetrator may be required by the court to give the victim this money immediately.Victims can testify at the trial in places like the United States and England. They are able to discuss their experiences with the crime in court.

In the United States, this is known as a victim impact statement, while in England, it is known as a "victim personal statement." However, victims still do not have this right in India. If the offender doesn't pay the reparation, they can end up in jail. Imprisonment in default of payment is what this is known as. The perpetrator may even be sentenced to jail time if they don't pay the compensation, according to the court. In general, the law is beginning to assist criminal victims more effectively. However, more work needs to be done.

According to a recent ruling in Rekha Murarka v. The State of West Bengal[16] (November 2019), the victims' private counsel is not permitted to verbally question or cross-examine the witnesses. A closer look at the Court's logic reveals that the decision will undoubtedly have major repercussions for the victims' right to participate. That is a setback for the growing body of victim justice law.

Measures To Protect Victims Of Abuse Of Power

"We shall never prevent the abuse of power if we are not prepared to limit power in a way which occasionally may prevent its use for desirable purposes." ~ Friedrich August von Hayek[17]

"Governments should consider establishing guidelines preventing abuses of power and providing victims with remedies in their domestic legislation. Particularly important among these remedies should be restitution, compensation, and the necessary financial, material, medical, psychological, and social support. Governments might consider creating worldwide multilateral accords on victims.

States should pass laws outlawing significant abuses of political or economic power and enforcing them, as well as promoting preventative measures and policies. Additionally, they ought to provide and make accessible the proper rights and remedies for anyone who suffer such harms. Governments should regularly examine current laws and procedures to make sure they are adaptable to changing conditions."[18]

In many societies, power is often abused. In order to combat this problem, governments should consider establishing guidelines preventing abuses of power and providing victims with remedies in their domestic legislation. Particularly important among these remedies should be restitution, compensation, and the necessary financial, material, medical, psychological, and social support. Governments might consider creating worldwide multilateral accords on victims. States should pass laws outlawing significant abuses of political or economic power and enforcing them as well.

Governments should consider establishing guidelines preventing abuses of power and providing victims with remedies in their domestic legislation. Particularly important among these remedies should be restitution, compensation, and the necessary financial, material, medical, psychological and social support. Governments might consider creating worldwide multilateral accords on victims. States should pass laws outlawing significant abuses of political or economic power and enforcing them as well.

Many kinds of abuse are not criminal offenses in any legal system because they are not illegal in all societies. However, if a society deems an offense to be severe enough that it considers itself morally obliged to outlaw it then it is often included under the concept of abuse of governmental power. If an abuse is considered a crime, then it is often divided into various crimes. If an abuse is not a crime in a particular society, then it may be included under the concept of civil rights.

The term "abuse of power" has been used to describe some of the more widespread forms of abuse, including corruption and malfeasance are also sometimes described as abuses. However, the term abuse of power does not have clear boundaries; for example, when describing domestic abuse by relatives or spouses.

The concept of "abuse of power" has been used for centuries in Great Britain and America to refer to sullying or embarrassing someone and making them lose face or prestige. Disgraceful conduct was considered a kind of abuse, as was "interfering with police investigations", which limited the authority of law enforcement officers. Thus, a number of laws have been passed in recent decades to prevent "abuses of power" like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002; the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and; the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988.

In numerous cultures and historical periods, abuse by a ruler was considered to be a more serious offense than that committed by ordinary citizens. In Ancient Greece, ordinary citizens were allowed to prosecute their rulers for murder; as long as the ruler intended to kill the person, then he could be found guilty.

Promoting the establishment, growth, and expansion of national compensation funds is crucial. In cases where the victim's country of nationality is unable to give financial assistance, additional funds may be made available for this purpose as needed. Through public, non-profit, municipal, and indigenous channels, victims should have access to the assistance, healthcare, counseling, and social support they require.

Victims should be made aware of the existence of vital health, social, and other resources and given quick access to them. Police, judicial, medical, social service, and other relevant staff members should receive training that makes them aware of victims' needs and best practices in order to ensure effective and quick treatment. Due to the nature of the harm caused, consideration for persons with specific needs should be considered while offering services and aid to victims.

Simply said, Abuse of power refers to the use of power unfairly to advance an individual, an organization, or a regime. There are several different ways to define abuses of power, including white-collar crime, economic crime, organized crime, labor crime, public corruption, organized crime, as well as governmental and corporate deviation.

The needs of those who have been victims of crimes are beginning to receive increasing consideration from legislators around the world. This movement began in India following the adoption of the UN Declaration. The courts have been very crucial in ensuring that criminal victims are treated seriously throughout the criminal justice system. In comparison to before, victims now have more rights. This has been made possible by the Malimath Committee and Law Commission's recommendations.

Victims are no longer merely those who report crimes to the police or give testimony in court. They have rights of their own that can ensure the criminal justice system functions in their favour. However, India still requires a more comprehensive strategy for aiding crime victims. India should adopt legislation similar to that of other nations that gives victims a voice in every phase of the criminal justice system.

The boundaries of who has power, how that authority is dispersed, and the incentives are the most frequent causes of power abuse. The most typical form of abuse occurs when someone utilizes their position of power to further their own interests; however, this can also occur when someone exploits their position of power to advance the interests of another person. When power is used beyond what is permitted by law or norm, this is considered an abuse of that power. According to the standard definition of abuse of power, it is "a form of unethical conduct in which a person uses a position of authority, trust, or influence to take advantage of or exploit others." Abuse of Power in Organizations, Governmental Corruption, and Occupational Crime are a few of the various types that have been mentioned.

Abuse of power occurs in organizations: when a corporation prioritizes a leader's own goals over the demands of its workers and clients, or when someone in a position of authority abuses their authority to carry out illegal actions for their benefit or other reasons. Malfeasance is another term for workplace abuse of authority. Any form of abuse, including sexual assault, carelessness, physical assault, etc. Corruption takes many forms, from bribery to fraud and extortion, to illegal use of insider information, abuse of power in a position of authority, or distortion of public rules and regulations.

To obtain illegitimate benefits or misuse power for one's gain, it is dishonest or illegal for a person or organization to act in such a way while in a position of authority.

  1. 'Abuse Of Power Quotes | A-Z Quotes' - accessed 27 April 2023
  2. 'Crime and the Abuse of Power - Offenses and Offenders Beyond the Reach of Law? | Office of Justice Programs' - accessed 11 April 2023
  3. 'Abuse of Power at Workplace - Meaning, Examples and Impacts' - accessed 27 April 2023
  4. 'Absolute Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster' - accessed 27 April 2023
  5. 'Wayback Machine' (5 May 2015) - accessed 27 April 2023
  6. 'What Is Corruption? - Transparency.Org' - accessed 27 April 2023
  7. idib
  8. idib
  9. DONALD SCARINCI; Constitutional Law Reporter. May 17, 2017. Archived from the original on September 23, 2019. Retrieved September 23, 2019 Available at: "Impeachment of Judge George W English Dismissed After Resignation".
  10. 'Trump Impeachment: Three Democrats Cross Party Lines to Vote "No" - The New York Times' - accessed 27 April 2023
  11. 'Fourteenth Law Commission | Law Commission of India | India' - accessed 27 April 27, 2023
  12. 'Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System' pp 75-84
  13. There are legislations like Fatal Accident Act, 1855; Motor Vehicles Act, 1988; Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 which also provide for compensation to victims of crime.
  14. Hari Singh v Sukhbir Singh, (SC), (1988)4 SCC 551
  15. Delhi Domestic Working Women's Forum v. Union of India, (SC), (1995) (1) SCC 14
  16. Rekha Murarka v. State of WB, (SC), 2020 AIR SCC 100
  17. Top 25 abuse of Power Quotes (of 72): A-Z quotes (no date) A.
  18. 'Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power | OHCHR' - accessed 11 April 2023 accessed 11 April 2023
Award Winning Article Is Written By:
  1. Kalash Jain, Student of Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida &
  2. Lokesh Patel, Student of Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida
    Awarded certificate of Excellence
    Authentication No: JL355140982345-4-0723

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