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CORRUPTION AS A HEINOUS CRIME


The Union Cabinet recently approved amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, that provide for classifying corruption as a heinous crime and longer prison terms for both bribe-giver and bribe- taker. The proposed amendment act will also ensure speedy trial, limited to two years, for corruption cases.

The Prevention of Corruption Act was enacted in 1988.The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha for the purpose on August 19, 2013.The Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee submitted its report on the Bill to the Rajya Sabha on February 6, last year but the Bill could not be passed.Further amendments are proposed in the Bill as recommended by the Law Commission of India in its 254th report. The present Government,on April 29, decided to add more teeth by adding more amendments to the bill that is pending before the Rajya Sabha.

In 2014 India ranked 85th out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, compared to its neighbors Bhutan (30th), Bangladesh (145th), Myanmar (156th), China (100th), Nepal (126th), Pakistan (126th) and Sri Lanka (85th). In 2013, India was ranked 94th out of 175 countries. The new bill is intended to improve the governance and change the perception of world communities towards the Indian political and administrative system.

The Government said that the proposed amendments would fill in perceived gaps in the domestic anti-corruption law and also help in meeting the country’s obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) more effectively

PROVISION OF THE BILL

  • It has provision for more stringent punishment for both the bribe giver and taker, increasing the penal provisions from minimum six months to three years and from maximum five years to seven years.The seven year imprisonment will bring corruption to the heinous crime category.
  • The bill mentions that all the corruption trials should be completed in two years and both bribe taker and giver will be held guilty.The average trial period of cases under PC Act in the last four years has been above eight years.
  • It is also proposed to extend the protection of prior sanction for prosecution to public servants who cease to hold office due to retirement, resignation etc.
  • To contain gain of benefits from profits of corruption, the powers of attachment are proposed to be conferred upon the trial Court (Special Judge) instead of the District Court.
  • The amendments also seek expanding the ambit of provision for containing inducement of public servant from individuals to commercial entities to contain supply side of corruption and also provide for issuing of guidelines for commercial organisations to prevent persons associated with them from bribing a public servant.
  • Further, prior sanction for inquiry and investigation shall be required from the Lokpal or Lokayukta, as the case may be, for investigation of offences relatable to recommendations made or decision taken by a public servant in discharge of official functions or duties.

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