Regulations
Cabinet okays stronger, well-defined anti-graft bill
In a bid to remove the fear of future harassment over decisions taken in good faith by policy-makers but assign stricter punishment for graft, the cabinet on Wednesday approved key changes in the anti-corruption law to be placed before parliament.
 
Among the proposals in the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, is a new definition of criminal misconduct and more stringent punishment for offences, both by the giver and taker. In addition to individuals, it also seeks to bring commercial entities within its purview.
 
The minimum punishment is proposed to be enhanced from six months to three years and the maximum from five years to seven years. 
 
"The seven-year imprisonment brings corruption to the heinous crime category," an official statement said after a cabinet meeting here chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
The amendments also seek to make the law conform to the UN Convention against Corruption.
 
In the existing act legislation, the guilt of the person is presumed for an offence of taking a bribe. The bill seeks to amend this provision to only cover specific offences. It also wants that an "intention" to acquire ill-gotten assets should be proved by the prosecutors.
 
Earlier this week, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said the 27-year-old anti-corruption law needed a complete re-haul as it was not only preventing an honest decision-making process, but also leaving a lot of room for undesirable interpretation.
 
"Does the 1988 act adequately distinguish between an act of corruption and one where honest error has been made," Jaitley asked at an event of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
 
"This 1988 act fails the test," he said, faulting the inference of words like corruption and gratification.
 
"In any economic activity, decision-making has to be quicker," he said, alluding to recent events where former bureaucrats -- some of whom enjoyed impeccable record during service -- were called in for questioning by probe agencies for decisions taken earlier, and charges filed against them.
 
The new bill seeks to rectify that.
 
"It is proposed to extend the protection of prior sanction for prosecution to public servants who cease to hold office due to retirement, resignation," an official statement said on Wednesday, following the cabinet approval.
 
"Further, prior sanction for inquiry and investigation shall be required from the Lokpal, or Lokayukta, as the case may be, for investigation of offences relatable to the recommendations made or decision taken by a public servant in discharge of official functions or duties."
 
The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 19, 2013. The related parliamentary standing committee submitted its report on February 6 next year. The views of the Law Commission were also incorporated. But the Bill could not be passed.
 
In the new bill, proper definition of several terms has been proposed.
 
For example, public function is defined as one that is performed in the course of employment and done so impartially, in good faith. Improper performance is breach of this expectation -- and relevant means one that is performed in good faith, in a position of trust.
 
At the same time, the bill omits an existing provision where during trial, if a person makes a statement that bribe was given, it cannot be used against that person by the prosecution. This may deter bribe givers from appearing as witnesses in cases against public officials.
 
Other highlights of the bill:
 
- Powers of attachment of properties with the trial court instead of district court;
 
- Provisions on inducement of public servant added to contain corruption;
 
- Making commercial organisations issue guidelines while dealing with a public servant;
 
- Providing for completion of trial within two years, against eight years it takes now;
 
- Intentional bribe-taking by public servants treated as criminal misconduct;
 
- Possession of disproportionate assets as proof of bribe-taking; and
 
- Coverage of both monetary and non-monetary gratification.

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COMMENTS

Ralph Rau

2 years ago

Old definition of government corruption:

Extracting personal pecuniary or non-pecuniary advantage from a citizen or government contractor by misuing one's official position.

New definition of corruption (by the corrupt under the old definition):

Any act or ommission of a public servant that results in delaying any "development work" despite the offer of customary pecuniary and non-pecuniary advantage by a citizen or government contractor.

Ralph Rau

2 years ago

.."distinguish between an act of corruption and one where honest error has been made," Jaitley asked...

This is a joke right ?

vishal

2 years ago

This bill, if it becomes a law and enforced, will change the economic condition in India and bring lakhs of culprits dealing in grafts in a day to day basis. But the opponents are going to be none other than opposition and they will try to stop this bill in some pretext or other. Graft has become an accepted form of living and amassing wealth with many people in India and it is doubtful if they will allow this bill to become a law.

HDFC posts Rs.5,990 crore profit
Housing Development Corporation Ltd (HDFC) on Wednesday said it closed last fiscal with a net profit of Rs.5,990.14 crore as compared to Rs. 5,440.24 crore for the year ended 2013-14.
 
In a regulatory filing in BSE, the company said its total income has increased from Rs. 2,4197.67 crore for the year ended March 31, 2014 to Rs.27,470.86 crore for the year ended March 31, 2015.
 
On consolidated basis, HDFC has posted a net profit after tax of Rs.8,762.62 crore last fiscal as compared to Rs.7,947.82 crore for the year ended March 31, 2014.
 
Total income increased from Rs.40,814.56 crore for the year ended March 31, 2014 to Rs. 48,390.03 crore for the year ended March 31, 2015.
 
The board of directors of the company has recommended a final dividend of Rs.13 per equity share of face value of Rs.2 each for 2014-15.
 
The total dividend for the year (including the interim dividend of Rs.2 per equity share) is Rs.15 per equity share as against Rs.14 per equity share for the previous year.

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High Court declines to suspend beef ban in Maharashtra
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday declined to suspend certain provisions of a recent Maharashtra law banning beef consumption, its possession or transportation even when slaughtered outside the state.
 
A division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice M.S. Sonak felt no suspension could be granted till the final hearing of a bunch of public interest litigations challenging the ban on beef in the state, and fixed the next hearing for June 25.
 
One of the petitioners, Mutton Butchers Union Sarvashramik Sangh secretary Vijay Dalvi, said they were opposed to the ban as it affects not just the consumers but also farmers, traders, the leather industry and many other stakeholders.
 
The court on Wednesday directed the Maharashtra government to file its detailed affidavit on the issue within four weeks and permitted the petitioners and intervenors to file their rejoinders later.
 
Early March, after President Pranab Mukherjee granted assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2015, the beef ban was enforced in the state, including on sale or possession of beef, with stringent penalties.
 
The slaughter of cows was already prohibited in the state under the Maharashtra Animal Presevation Act, 1976. The new act now also bans slaughter of bulls and bullocks, previously permitted on a fit-for-slaughter certificate.
 
Three PILs challenging the azct's Section 5(d) and 9(a), which prohibit possession, transportation and consumption, contended that this even bans transportation of beef from other states and sought an injunction on these (sections).
 
The high court also directed the state not to initiate any coercive action against traders found possessing or transporting beef till the pendency of the petition, or for three months, whichever is earlier, though FIRs can be lodged.
 
Adopting a lenient view, the judges observed that the act was introduced suddenly and the traders did not have reasonable time to dispose of their stocks.
 
The court also urged the state not to intrude on citizens' privacy if they were found in possession of beef in any form, but declined a blanket ban on the provisions of the new act.
 
Counsel for one of the petitioners, Aspi Chinoy argued that such a ban on consumption of beef violated the fundamental right of a person to have food of his choice.
 
Advocate-General of Maharashtra Sunil Manohar countered that consumption of beef is not a fundamental right of a citizen and the state could regulate a person's fundamental right to have his choice of food.
 
Manohar pointed out that the state legislation can regulate consumption of any animal flesh, saying there is already prohibition on consumption of meat of wild boar, deer and other animals.
 
"Five states, including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana have allowed import of beef despite a ban on slaughtering those animals," Chinoy pointed out, saying in Maharashtra the government has not yet contemplated regulation on beef imports.
 
Under the new Act, only slaughter of water buffaloes, which yields Carabeef, considered an inferior quality meat, has been allowed.
 
Beef traders have contended that the move to ban beef in the state will render thousands of people in the trade unemployed and also hike the prices of other non-vegetarian products like mutton, chicken, and fish.

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