The Prevention of Corruption Act 2018- Benefits and Criticism - Seeker's Thoughts

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The Prevention of Corruption Act 2018- Benefits and Criticism


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Introduction- To achieve full growth, the country needs a strong machinery to rule. There have been constant reforms since 2014, and one among them is – Prevention of Corruption Act. The prevention of Corruption Bill was passed in July 2018 in Parliament.

Bureaucracy and Corruption- There are enough provisions to tackle with corrupt officials. The abused faced by certain honest officer happened due to section 13(1) (D)(iii) of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988. According to this section when any honest official tried to a take a decision related to even some crucial sectors such as Mines, Coals and Petroleum, they were accused of ‘pecuniary (Related to Money) advantage for any person’ .

What is Section 13(1)(d) Of Prevention of Corruption Act(PCA) 1988?

Under Section 13(1) (d) of PCA 1988, it laid down five forms of criminal misconduct by public servants. Finding that some officers were giving in too easily to corrupt demands— and did not do anything to resist such demands under the belief that as long as they were not beneficiaries, no criminal liability was liable to be attached to officers.  Section 13(1) (d) (iii), a public servant commits the offence of criminal misconduct if he, “while holding office as a public servant, obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest”.
Original Law of PCA- Section 13

This stopped bold decision making and hampered the growth of the Economy as well.

What is new?

1-      Giving a bribe is now included as a crime.

2-      If anyone forces to give bribe then the bribe-giver must inform the authorities within seven days of giving the bribe.

3-      Also included for the first time is the liability for ‘commercial organizations’, which will be punished if any person associated with them, provides or promises to provide, undue advantage (Some sort of benefits) to a public official.

4-      Under the new Section 17A, except when a public official is caught ‘redhanded', the police cannot begin a probe, without the approval of the relevant authority, of any public official.

5-      The new Section 18A also introduces a provision for special courts to confiscate and attach the property acquired through corrupt practices.

6-      To ensure speedy justice, guidelines will be set under the Amendment Act included a limit of resolving cases within two years.

7-      One of the fundamental features of the amended act is that a new section — Section 17A — has been inserted, which bars an “enquiry or inquiry or investigation” by an anti-corruption agency (CBI included) against a public servant in matters relatable to the discharge of his official duties, without the prior approval of the Centre or the state government, as the case may be, or the disciplinary authority. This provision would apply to all public servants, including the lowest rungs of administration. Importantly, no enquiry is now permissible against an incumbent minister or, for that matter, a former minister, without the prior approval of the President. In case of MPs and MLAs, approval of the Speakers concerned shall be essential.

Criticism-

1-      By divesting the anti-corruption agencies of initiative in combating corruption, this provision is likely to render them toothless. As now anti- corruption agencies need more approval than the past.

2-      Cases may be delayed as permission is needed.

3-      In case the case extends more than two years which is given limit for a corruption case to be closed, it is unclear that what would happen to the case.

4-      The public servants often show undue favors to third-parties without leaving any evidence of quid pro quo or acceptance of “undue advantage”. As provision protects honest officers yet it may help those corrupt officials to escape safely.

5-      The top executives of the public sector financial institutions are likely to escape the long arm of the law despite evidence of showing undue favors — because there is no evidence of their intentions as well as law supports the decision making.

Conclusion - It appears that the amended law is public servant-friendly, concentrates the decision-making power with the government in matters of initiation of enquiries and investigations but deprives the anti-corruption agencies of initiative in combating corruption. It needs a relook. Time-bound decision-making is the best way for ease of justice, and GoI must be complimented for introducing such provisions in statutes, including the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).