Cabinet nod for harsher graft penalty.
THE Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to bring corruption into the heinous crime category by extending maximum punishment up to seven years from the current five years and also widening the ambit of the law suggesting that non- monetary gratification can also put government officials behind bars.
The Cabinet has also recommended scrapping Section 13 ( 1) ( d) dealing with abuse of official position by public servants and has inserted new provisions to get rid of the vagueness of the old provision as part of the proposed amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh is also facing prosecution under the same provision for his alleged role in the coal scam.
In the proposed Section 7( 2), also recommended by the Law Commission in its report on amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, the obligation of a public servant has been explicitly delineated in a way that the public servant deters from violating a statutory duty or any set of rules, government policies, executive instructions and procedures.
Section 13 ( 1) ( d) ( ii) states: " By abusing his position as a public servant, obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage,"
attracts a punishment of up to five years.
According to the new provision which was also recommended by the Law Commission any person who obtains or attempts to obtain undue advantage for himself or for another person, by abusing his position as a public servant or by using his personal influence over another public servant; or by acting in violation of a statutory duty or any set of rules, government policies, executive instructions and procedures; or by any other corrupt or illegal means shall be liable to imprisonment up to a minimum of three years and which can be extended to seven years.
The proposed amendments also provide for more stringent punishment for offences of bribery -- both for the bribe giver and the bribe taker.
A time limit of two years has been proposed to ensure speedy conclusion of corruption cases.
The average trial period of cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act in the past four years has been above eight years.
Prior sanction 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. Further, prior sanction for inquiry and investigation shall be required from the Lokpal or Lokayukta, as the case may be, for investigation of offences related to recommendations made or decision taken by a public servant in discharge of official functions or duties, the release said.
The official amendments, approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday will be part of the Prevention of Corruption ( Amendment) Bill, 2013 pending in the Rajya Sabha. It also provides guidelines for commercial organisations to prevent persons associated with them from bribing a public servant.
The Cabinet has agreed to bring corruption into the heinous crime category by extending maximum punishment up to seven years, apart from widening the ambit of the law
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