TO PRO­TECT OR TO PUN­ISH

India Today - - BIG STORY | BUREAUCRACY -

The Pre­ven­tion of Cor­rup­tion Act, 1988, reg­u­lates cases of cor­rup­tion by pub­lic of­fi­cials in In­dia. UPA-II in Au­gust 2013 in­tro­duced the Pre­ven­tion of Cor­rup­tion (Amend­ment) Bill but it was crit­i­cised on grounds that in­stead of dis­cour­ag­ing cor­rup­tion, it shielded er­rant bu­reau­crats. In 2014, the Modi govern­ment pro­posed ad­di­tional amend­ments, ap­proved by a Se­lect Com­mit­tee of the Ra­jya Sabha and the Cab­i­net. The bill is still pend­ing in Par­lia­ment but crit­ics say the new set of amend­ments pro­vide more im­mu­nity to bu­reau­crats

PRE­VEN­TION OF COR­RUP­TION ACT, 1988

Governs of­fence of giv­ing bribe to a pub­lic ser­vant Sec­tion 13(1)(d)* cov­ers in­di­rect forms of cor­rup­tion in­clud­ing get­ting “any valu­able thing or pe­cu­niary ad­van­tage” by an of­fi­cial

Pos­ses­sion of mon­e­tary re­sources or prop­erty dis­pro­por­tion­ate to known sources of in­come is enough to prove cor­rup­tion

Known sources of in­come lim­ited to re­ceipts that had been “in­ti­mated in ac­cor­dance with...any law, rules or or­ders for the time be­ing ap­pli­ca­ble to a pub­lic ser­vant”

Re­quires sanc­tion be­fore any serv­ing pub­lic ser­vants can be pros­e­cuted No need to ob­tain sanc­tion to ini­ti­ate probe into cor­rupt of­fi­cial No pros­e­cu­tion if a per­son, dur­ing a trial, ad­mits to giv­ing a bribe

If court con­sid­ers re­ward ob­tained by pub­lic ser­vant as ‘triv­ial’, then it shall not be pre­sumed an act of cor­rup­tion

THE PRO­POSED NEW BILL

New pro­vi­sions re­lated to giv­ing bribe to a pub­lic ser­vant Sec­tion deleted. Fraud­u­lent mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of prop­erty, il­licit, in­ten­tional en­rich­ment and dis­pro­por­tion­ate as­sets now crim­i­nal

Need to prove that the pub­lic ser­vant ac­quired as­sets dis­pro­por­tion­ate to known sources of in­come **

Def­i­ni­tion now deleted Pro­tec­tion is ex­tended to re­tired pub­lic ser­vants if the case per­tains to the pe­riod they were in of­fice

Prior sanc­tion needed even to probe of­fences Pro­vi­sion omit­ted, bribe­tak­ing and bribe­giv­ing to be equally pun­ish­able

Pro­vi­sion re­lated to ‘triv­ial’ re­ward deleted

WHAT THE CHANGE MEANS

Ear­lier, only vol­un­tary bribes in­vited pun­ish­ment; now, bribes un­der co­er­cion too pun­ish­able

Any ben­e­fit that is not eco­nomic, in­di­rect or that can­not be proven to be in­ten­tional fraud will not be treated as cor­rup­tion

Increases bur­den of proof nec­es­sary to pun­ish the cor­rupt and makes things dif­fi­cult for whis­tle­blower

Ac­cused can cite fresh sources of in­come at the stage of trial, some­thing that was not pos­si­ble ear­lier Will pro­tect re­tired of­fi­cials from un­due ha­rass­ment Ad­di­tional layer will give guilty enough time to tam­per with ev­i­dence

Will de­ter bribe­givers from ap­pear­ing as wit­nesses No favour is ex­empt from the def­i­ni­tion of bribe

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