Illegal property of corrupt babus to be confiscated

Sweeping changes

The Centre on Wednesday approved changes in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, to enable the authorities concerned to confiscate property illegally acquired by a corrupt public servant.

“The Union Cabinet has approved the provisions which will enable the authorities concerned to confiscate and forfeit property illegally acquired by a corrupt public servant,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram said after the meeting.

Another clause incorporated in the Act allows setting of a timeframe for getting  the sanction of a competent authority to prosecute serving/retired bureaucrats; reasons for giving or not giving the nod will have to be specified.

It is for the first time that a provision for liability of a commercial entity for failing to prevent bribery of a public servant has been incorporated.

“The amended bill has also laid down a "clear definition" of different forms of bribery in line with international practices,” Chidambaram said.

In a reprieve to retired bureaucrats, they would not have to face prosecution for acts of omission or commission while in office without the prior sanction of the competent authority.

Now, the government's protection in the form of prosecution sanction does not extend to retired bureaucrats.

A need was felt to bring the amendment to extend this protection to retired officials so that it would be mandatory for the prosecuting agency to get prior sanction before prosecuting them for something which they might have done with good intention while in office. 

The sanction to prosecute any public servant is granted by the competent authority. While in case of officers, it is the minister concerned, in case of the ministers, it is the prime minister.

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