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Govt mulls shield for retired babus in corruption cases

New Delhi, Sep 12, 2013 (PTI) 19:23 IST
File Photo. For representation only.
An investigating agency may have to seek prior permission from the government before questioning a retired bureaucrat in a corruption case if proposed amendments in a Bill are accepted by Parliament.

The provisions aimed at protecting retired bureaucrats will come into effect only after Parliament gives its nod to the changes in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

At present, there is no legal provision for investigating agencies to seek prior permissions to quiz a former government employee.

The changes in the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, will have a bearing on Delhi Special Police Establishment Act which governs the functioning of CBI, introduced in the Rajya Sabha during the recently concluded Monsoon session.

Prior sanction of competent authority is proposed to safeguard public servants from the vexatious prosecution after their retirement or remittance of office in the bona fide omission or commission in the discharge of their official duty, the Bill says.

As per rules, probe agencies like CBI and others have to seek prior permission to launch investigation against an officer of the level of Joint Secretary and above.

The amended bill fixes a time-frame of three months for the government to decide on a probe agency's request seeking sanction for prosecution against government officials.
An additional one month may also be given in case the government needs to consult with Attorney General or Advocate General.

The Bill also seeks to criminalise 'bribe giver' by punishing any commercial organisations through its office bearers or representatives to imprisonment up to seven years and fine for bribing government officials.

"A commercial organisation shall be guilty of an offence and shall be punishable with fine, if any person associated with the commercial organisation offers, promises or gives a financial or other advantage to a public servant," the Bill says.

If found guilty, such persons responsible for commercial organisations can be given imprisonment for not less than three years and a maximum of seven years in addition to fine, it says.

No domestic law, at present, has provision to punish a bribe giver.

The Bill has provisions for forfeiture of property of corrupt public servants.

The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2008, to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, was first introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 19, 2008 and was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 23, 2008. However, the Bill had lapsed due to dissolution of the Fourteenth Lok Sabha.

The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, containing the provisions envisaged in the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2008, was introduced in Rajya Sabha on August 19 and referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice on August 23 for examination and to submit a report within three months.

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