Rajya Sabha passes the amended anti-graft bill; here's all you should know

The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, that makes provisions for punishment to those giving bribe to a public servant, through a voice vote.

The Bill amends the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 redefining definitions and penalties for offences such as taking a bribe, being a habitual offender and abetting an offence.

Here are the changes and highlights of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2013:

1. Giving bribe is a specific and a direct offence.

2. It makes provision for protection to 'coercive' (forced to pay bribe) bribe givers if the matter is reported to the concerned law enforcement agencies within a week.

3. The Bill also redefines criminal misconduct and will now only cover misappropriation of property and possession of disproportionate assets.

4. The amended law proposes safeguards and protection to public servants, including those retired, from prosecution and makes it mandatory for investigative agencies to take prior approval from relevant authority before commencing any enquiry against them.

5. According to the bill, the trial in the cases pertaining to the exchange of bribe and corruption should be completed within two-years, and even after reasoned delays, the trial cannot exceed four years.

6. The Bill has removed the provision which protected a bribe-giver from prosecution for statements made by him/her during corruption trials.

7. The Bill proposes a minimum of three years of imprisonment as punishment with a possible maximum punishment of up to seven years, fine or both.

8. The Bill has now included commercial organisations into its ambit.

9. The Bill will now be tabled in Lok Sabha.

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