Bribing a govt official to now earn 7 years in jail

Bribing a govt official to now earn 7 years in jail

NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 that seeks to make giving bribes to a public servant an offence punishable with imprisonment upto seven years.
However, persons who declare within two weeks that they were coerced into giving bribe, shall be entitled to immunity.The passage of Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, introduced by the erstwhile UPA government in 2013, is the culmination of a fiveyear process that saw the bill examined by a parliamentary standing committee, law commission and finally a select committee.
The bill was on Thursday passed unanimously by the Upper House with 43 amendments, which included replacing Lokpal/Lokayukta with “competent authority” for sanction of investigation against a public servant.
The other important changes that the government agreed to incorporate in the bill are enhancing the seven-day period for bribe-givers to make a representation of having been coerced into giving bribe, to two weeks; and providing for deciding of cases relating to attachment of property/assets acquired through corruption by a sessions judge instead of special judge. The bill is likely to be put up before the Lok Sabha on Monday or Tuesday.
The debate in Rajya Sabha saw the opposition led by the Congress object to the provision that requires Lokpal or Lokayukta to approve sanction for investigation of a public servant in a corruption case.Congress leader Anand Sharma pointed out that Lokpal was yet to be appointedand wondered how such a sanction request would be processed in absence of the anticorruption ombudsman.
Minister of state for personnel Jitendra Singh, acknowledging the anomaly, said delay in appointment of Lokpal was for reasons “beyond our control” and due to the “technicality” of there being no recognised leader of opposition in Lok Sabha.
“This amendment (to PC Act) was brought in 2013 around the same time that the Lokpal Bill was brought….So they were linked, stating that the ultimate authoritywould be Lokpal. This would (now) be ‘competent authority’,” he said.Singh, later speaking to TOI, said requests for sanction of investigation would now be approved by the “competent authority.