Union Cabinet approved Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013

Apr 29, 2015 17:00 IST

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 29 April 2015 approved amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 by pursuing the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013.

The proposed amendments are mainly aimed at laying down more stringent measures to tackle corruption.

The proposed amendments will fill the gaps in the domestic anti-corruption law and will help in meeting the country's obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) more effectively.

Main highlights of the Bill
• It provides more stringent punishment for the offences of bribery, both for the bribe giver and the bribe taker.
• It enhances penal provisions from minimum 6 months to 3 years and from maximum 5 years to 7 years (the seven year imprisonment brings corruption on equal footing with the heinous crime).
• 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.
• It expands the ambit of provision for containing inducement of public servant from individuals to commercial entities is being added to contain supply side of corruption.
• It provides certain guidelines for commercial organizations to prevent persons associated with them from bribing a public servant.
• The average trial period of cases under Prevention Corruption Act in the last 4 years has been above 8 years. It is proposed to ensure speedy trial by providing a trial completion within 2 years.
• It says that the intentional enriching by public servants will be construed as criminal misconduct and possession of disproportionate assets as proof of such illicit enrichment.
• Non-monetary gratification has been covered within the definition of the word gratification.
• By way of explanation 2 to section 7(2), the obligation of a public servant has been explicitly delineated such that the public servant deters from violating a statutory duty or any set of rules, government policies, executive instructions and procedures.

Besides, the amendments also proposed to extend the protection of prior sanction for prosecution to public servants who cease to hold office due to retirement, resignation etc.

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.

Background
The amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was necessitated from the obligation of India to review the existing provisions of the Act so as to bring it in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

This led to the introduction of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 in the Rajya Sabha on 19 August 2013. However, it could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha.

As the Bill contemplates an important paradigm shift in defining offences relating to bribery, later the views of the Law Commission of India were also sought on the proposed amendments. Thus, the present Bill incorporates the recommendations given by the 20th Law Commission headed by Justice (retd) AP Shah in its 254th Report.

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