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Bring corporates, bribe givers under anti-graft law: House panel

In a first, a Parliamentary Committee has recommended criminalising private sector bribery by bringing in corporates and their executives in the ambit of proposed anti-corruption law and recommended jail term of upto seven years along with fine. Besides, it has suggested punishment for bribe givers too.

At present, there is no law in the country that covers corruption in the private sector or criminalises bribe giving. The panel has, however, not agreed with the government’s proposal to include Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) in the jurisdiction of a proposed anti-corruption law and exempted “charitable services” from it.

The Committee, that examined changes in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in its report recommended a ‘shield’ for public servants and suggested a mandatory conditions for probe agencies like CBI to take “previous approval” of competent authority before conducting any enquiry or investigation against a public servant--including from peon to Secretary.

However, such approval will not be necessary for cases involving “arrest of a person on the spot on the charge of accepting or attempting to accept any undue advantage for himself or for any 
other person”.

The report of the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha on the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, was submitted today. As many as 19 Sections of the 28-year-old anti-corruption law were proposed to be amended through the bill, which were examined by the panel.

The Committee has recommended time-bound trial of corruption cases within two years time.

In order to contain corporate corruption, the bill has proposed to increase the liability of commercial organisation to the extent of making its in-charge guilty of offence of corruption, if its agent or employee offers undue advantage or bribe to public servant.

“A commercial organisation shall be guilty of an offence and shall be punishable with fine, if any person associated with the commercial organisation gives or promises to give any undue advantage,” the panel said.

It has recommended exclusion of business “including charitable services” by such commercial organisations.
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