SC seeks govt reply on petition challenging amendments to Prevention of Corruption Act

The Supreme Court ordered the government to respond to a petition challenging two amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The amendments were the introduction of S. 17 A (1) by which prior permission for investigation of corruption offenses was required from the government and the removal of S. 13 (1) (d) (ii) (criminal misconduct) from the Act. The latter provision had earlier made it an offense for a public servant to abuse his position to give pecuniary or other advantages to a third party.

The amendments were:

The introduction of S. 17 A (1) by which prior permission for investigation of corruption offenses was required from the government.

The removal of S. 13 (1) (d) (ii) (criminal misconduct) from the Act. It had earlier made it an offense for a public servant to abuse his position to give pecuniary or other advantages to a third party.

Highlights of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018:

Punishment for bribe-taking enhanced: Minimum punishment of 3 yrs, extendable up to 7 yrs with fine; from the earlier 6 months, with extension up to 3 yrs.

‘Undue Advantage’ expanded: The earlier limited definition of “undue advantage” expanded to now includes “anything other than legal remuneration”.

Gifts received for established undue advantage/mala-fide motive are now considered an act of corruption.

For the first time, the giving of the bribe has now been made a direct offense on par with the taking of a bribe. At the same time, protection has been built-in against coercive bribery, as long as the victim comes forward within 7 days.

Superiors to be held if employee/agent has bribed with their approval, for the advancement of the organization’s interests.

Law enforcement empowered for immediate attachment & forfeiture of illegal property of a public servant, invoking provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

To conclude the investigation and trial within 2 yrs, extendable up to 4 yrs.

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