[op-ed snap] Time to blow the whistle

  1. Context: Parliament to change the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), 1988, into a law
  2. The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013
  3. Purpose: to tighten existing anti-corruption legislation
  4. It narrows down the existing definition of corruption
  5. Under the new definition, any benefit that is not economic, that is indirect or that cannot be proven to be intentional fraud will not be punished as corruption
  6. Second, it will increase the burden of proof necessary for punishing the corrupt
  7. Now the prosecutor will also have to prove that this disproportionate asset was acquired with the intention of the public servant to enrich himself illicitly
  8. Third, the proposed amendment makes it more risky for a bribe-giver to give evidence against a bribe-taker
  9. The current Bill omits this provision and proposes that bribe-taking and bribe-giving will be equally punishable
  10. Now, the political masters will decide whether they wish to allow a corruption inquiry against any government employee or not

Note4Students:

This is an important amendment of corruption bill, especially in times when the government has demonetized currency to fight against corruption. Expect a lot of debate on this in times to come.

SC seeks Parliamentary panel report on Lokpal amendments

  1. What: The SC directed the govt to place on record a Parliamentary Standing Committee report suggesting amendments to the Lokpal law
  2. The SC has pushed for making the leader of the largest opposition party in the House a part of the high-profile Search Committee to appoint the Lokpal
  3. This is in case there is no recognised Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha
  4. Currently, the 16th Lok Sabha has no recognised LoP
  5. It scheduled the petition filed by NGO Common Cause seeking implementation of the Lokpal law for hearing on Dec 14
  6. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act has not been implemented since it was made law in 2013
  7. Previously: The Bench had criticised the govt for “dragging its feet” on the appointment of anti-corruption ombudsman, Lokpal, to usher in probity in public life

Note4students:

All SC judgments are important. Hence this news is important from mains points of view. It is also important for topics related to corruption.

Back2basics:

A Lokpal is an anti-corruption authority or ombudsman who represents the public interest. The Lokpal has jurisdiction over all MP’s and central government employees in cases of corruption. The 2013 Bill as passed by Parliament creates a Lokpal at the centre which shall consist of a chairperson and up to eight members.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013, following the Jan Lokpal movement led by Anna Hazare. The Lokpal is responsible for enquiring into corruption charges at the national level while the Lokayukta performs the same function at the state level.

[op-ed snap] Ombudsman Bill gathering dust in the closet

  1. Background: SC criticizes Union government for delaying the appointment of a Lokpal
  2. A timely message, that efforts to cleanse the economy must be matched by equally strong measures to cleanse public life too
  3. No explanation for the failure to establish an institution even three years after passing the relevant law
  4. Reason for the delay: A minor amendment to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 pending
  5. To enable leader of the largest party in opposition in LS to join the five-member selection committee, is yet to be passed
  6. Law provides for a five-member panel to select the anti-corruption ombudsman
  7. 5 members: comprising PM, the LS Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist
  8. The hitch is that there is no recognised LoP in the lower House
  9. Speaker can recognise LoP, only the leader of the principal opposition party that has 10% of the total number of LS seats

Protect honest officers, IAS delegation urges Centre

  1. Review: The delegation urged Govt to review some of the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
  2. Why? To ensure that ‘honest and sincere officers’ are not made scapegoats for ‘bona fide’ decisions taken in public interest
  3. Context: Recent suspension of a senior officer in the Home Ministry following the renewal of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act license to Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF)
  4. Such moves by the government would send a wrong signal, demoralising others who take decisions in public interest in good faith
  5. Discuss the utility of Section 13(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 to ensure probity in civil services. Do you think there is a need to amend this section to help bureaucrats to function fearlessly?

How TI measures Corruption Perception Index?

  1. The index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide based on expert opinions.
  2. It looks at a range of factors like-
    • Whether govt leaders are held to account or go unpunished for corruption,
    • The perceived prevalence of bribery
    • Whether public institutions respond to citizens’ needs.

Let’s know about Transparency International

  1. Founded in 1993, it is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation dedicated to fighting corruption.
  2. Vision- A world in which govt, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption.
  3. It creates awareness of the devastating effects of corruption, and work with govts, businesses and international organisations to develop effective programmes to tackle it.
  4. International Secretariat– Berlin, that has turned the fight against corruption into a worldwide movement.

India ranks 76 in Corruption Perception Index

The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world.

  1. The Transparency International (TI) has put India at rank 76 out of 168 countries in its latest Corruption Perception Index.
  2. The country’s 2015 corruption perception score remains the same as last year’s, showing lack of improvement.
  3. China fared worse than India and Brazil at rank 83 and Pakistan improved its score this year, though its rank remains poor at 117.
  4. Nordic countries– Denmark, Finland and Sweden topped the chart with their clean public sectors as in previous years.

Nuts and bolts / institution building

The Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta controversy highlights the need for greater attention to anti-corruption systems and processes.

  1. Anti-corruption institutions are not magic wands that can be waved at will.
  2. They are no better than their processes and procedures, and they will falter unless the nuts and bolts are of good quality and kept in good repair.
  3. Lokpal movement, which foregrounded the issue of corruption in the national imagination, had a pronounced moralistic streak that, among other things, caused it to distrust and skirt systems and structures.
  4. The entire system was corrupt, it suggested, and therefore, the anti-corruption authority had to exist outside it.
  5. Insufficient clarity about the institutions, systems and protocols that are expected to drive the change is bound to derail it.
  6. In UP selection of Lokayukta, a miasma of ad hoc-ness and arbitrariness suffocated the process.
  7. It could flourish only because the nuts and bolts of the selection procedure of the Lokayukta — the first step towards building the institution — were insufficiently considered.

SC wants interim mechanism to protect whistleblowers

  1. SC has noted that whistleblowers who raise their voice against corruption in govt. need to be protected.
  2. The apex court wants Centre to create a interim mechanism for dealing with complaints of whistleblowers and their safety.
  3. The interim mechanism will be in place till a law is enacted in Parliament.
  4. The bill has been passed by the LS and there is a demand to send it to the Select Committee of the RS.

Anti-corruption bill sent to select committee

  1. The RS referred the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, to a Select Committee after objections over certain clauses.
  2. They pointed to an overlap with the provisions of the Lokpal Act and sought greater clarity.
  3. The long-pending Bill provides for more stringent punishment for bribery, both for the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker.
  4. The Bill also seeks to increase penalty for corruption to a maximum of 7 years from 5 years currently.

Walmart paid millions of dollars in bribes in India: report

 

  1. America’s multinational retail corporation Walmart is suspected to have paid bribes worth millions of dollars.
  2. To help move goods through customs or obtain real-estate permits.
  3. Walmart’s massive bribery efforts is unlikely to bring in any penalty on it.
  4. As its Indian operation does not yield any profit under the provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act</strong> (FCPA) of the US.
  5. Penalties under the FCPA, connected to the amount of profit the alleged misconduct generated, the payments in India wouldn’t be likely to result in any sizable penalty.

 

Leniency for corrupt officials will weaken judiciary: SC

  1. The penological philosophy behind punishment for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 – There is no room for sympathy or leniency towards a public servant convicted of corruption.
  2. Misplaced sympathy or unwarranted leniency will send a wrong signal to the public, giving room to suspect institutional integrity.
  3. The 1988 Act was amended last year to increase the punishment for corruption.
  4. Min punishment was raised from 6 months to 3 years.

[op-ed snap] Amending the law against corruption

Some amendments fail to address key issues in corruption jurisprudence.

  1. In 2013, the bill proposed to extend the protection of prior sanction for prosecuting public servants to former officials as well.
  2. The ostensible reason was that Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure protected retired officials, while the PCA covered only serving officials.
  3. But the sanction provision ought to have been restricted to prosecutions that flow from deviations from public policy, laws and regulations.
  4. Possessing unexplained assets, being caught red-handed while taking a bribe and misappropriating property cannot be actions in the course of official functions.
  5. A distinction ought to have been made between collusive bribery and bribery under coercion.
  6. Some +ive features – The trial court itself can now deal with the process of attachment of property instead of the district court.
  7. Fixing a time frame for grant of sanction and completion of trial is a welcome feature.

Changes in Act will make graft ‘heinous crime’

  1. The Union Cabinet approved amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  2. Amendments provide for classifying corruption as a heinous crime and longer prison terms for both bribe-giver and bribe- taker.
  3. The proposed amendment will also ensure a speedy trial, within two years, for corruption cases.
  4. This will also help in meeting the country’s obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption more effectively


:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.







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