A parliamentary panel Thursday recommended that a bill to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act be passed in the current parliament session itself — taking the total number of anti-corruption legislations listed for passage to seven.
The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) bill has amongst its provisions bringing the corporate sector under the Act, but with certain riders. It also makes giving bribe an offence.
“We now have seven anti-graft bills for passage in this session,” said Shantaram Naik, Congress member of the Rajya Sabha and chairman of the standing committee on personnel, public grievance, law and justice presenting the report of his panel.
“It is our hope and endeavour to get all these bills passed in this session. It is also the duty of all opposition parties to cooperate with the government,” he said.
The committee largely endorsed the government’s bill, according to which private companies found involved in corruption will be punished.
The bill, however, has a rider.
“If the corporate body has a mechanism in place to check corruption, and still an incident of corruption happens, the company will not be liable but the individual taking or giving of bribe will be punished,” Naik told reporters.
Bribe-givers and intermediaries will also be punished with imprisonment and fine under the act.
The committee, however, suggested that as people are sometimes forced to give bribe, there should be a provision that those forced to pay bribe may report it to the authorities.
The bill also provides for confiscation of the property of a corrupt official. The inability of a corrupt public servant to explain the lawful source of income of disproportionate assets will also be a ground for prosecution.
Naik also said that passing this bill, along with the six other bills, will make the law much stronger against corruption.
The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) bill will now go to the cabinet and, once approved, it will be brought to parliament.
The other bills pending in parliament include the grievance redressal bill, whistle blowers’ protection bill, prevention of bribery of foreign officials and officials of public international organisations bill, public procurement bill, and electronic deliver of service bill.