House Panel for Bringing Cos Under Anti-graft Law
Punishment for companies offering bribes to public servants recommended
New Delhi: A parliamentary panel has favoured the inclusion of companies under the Prevention of Corruption Act, which regulates matters of corrupt practices by public officials. The panel, which examined a bill to amend the act, has finalised its report and will table it in Parliament next week. The bill has specific provisions to deal with the giving of bribes to public servants and the giving of bribes by commercial organisations. Highly placed officials in the government told ET the panel is in favour of including companies under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The report is one of three that are scheduled to be tabled in the budget session, which resumes from April 25. The other two are from a joint parliamentary committee examining the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and from a panel looking into the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill. The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill is aimed at bringing stricter anticorruption laws in India. It proposes enhanced punishment for bribe givers and bribe takers. At present, there is no law to punish bribe givers. Govern- ment sources told ET that the panel has recommended antibribery guidelines for companies and their employees while dealing with public servants. Commercial organisations can be held responsible if they or people acting on their behalf are found to have offered bribes to public servants. The Central Vigilance Commission is probing a case involving US retail giant Wal-Mart Stores and confectionery major Mondelez India Ltd. against certain government employees for alleged corruption.
The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill has provisions for the attachment and forfeiture of property of public servants accused of corruption. The Cabinet had approved amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, last April. It also aims at speedy completion of corruption trials and extending protection from prosecution to public servants who cease to hold office following retirement and resignation.
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister in December and the JPC’s report is expected next week.
FM Arun Jaitley FILE PHOTO