Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2018 passes in Lok Sabha, now bribe-giver set to get equal punishment as bribe-taker
By FnF Desk | PUBLISHED: 25, Jul 2018, 16:20 pm IST | UPDATED: 25, Jul 2018, 17:11 pm IST
Lok Sabha on Tuesday cleared the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018, enhancing the punishment for corruption by public servants and those who might wish to bribe them. It raised the punishment for those found guilty of taking and giving bribes, and expanded the definition of "undue advantage" to include everything other than legal remuneration.
The bill toughened punishment for bribe givers by defining giving of bribe — so far viewed as abetment — as a direct offence on a par with "taking of bribe". Punishment for those found guilty (bribe-takers as well bribe-givers) has been raised from a minimum jail term of 6 months in the original law to 3 years, extendable up to 7 years, with a fine. Repeat offenders can be subjected to a minimum imprisonment of 5 years, extendable up to 10 years with fine.
The bill, which has already been passed by Rajya Sabha and will become law after President gives his assent, seeks to 'criminalise' gifts. Sources said that gifts received for established undue advantage/malafide motive will now considered an act of corruption. Previously, all gifts were exempt from scrutiny, allowing for abuse.
While protection has been built in against coercive bribery provided the victim comes forward within 7 days, corporate bribery has been criminalised. For the first time, superior functionaries of a commercial organisation will be held responsible if their employees or representatives are found to have bribed public servants with their approval for furthering the interest of their organisation.
Apart from the enhanced prison terms, the law provides for immediate attachment and forfeiture of illegal property of a public servant under Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The possession of "illicit property" itself will be a sufficient cause for prosecution. The bill, for the first time, mandates for timely trial. Investigation and trial must be concluded within 2 years, extendable up to a maximum of four years.
However, a provision has been made to protect “honest bureaucrats” from performing their duties without the fear of malicious prosecution. Sources said the bill will empower honest public servants to work without fear or favour, as per laid down laws, policies and procedures.