7 years jail term for graft

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Corruption is set to become a heinous crime with the Narendra Modi government proposing to increase the maximum punishment for graft from the existing five years to seven years.

Minimum penalty is also sought to be raised from six months to three years, according to official amendments to be moved to the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, now pending before the Rajya Sabha.

The official amendments were approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.

A key amendment seeks to expand the ambit of provision for containing inducement of public servant from individuals to commercial entities. This is aimed at tackling supply side of corruption. Also, non-monetary gratification is proposed be covered under the definition of gratification from an act of corruption.

The official amendments moot stringent punishment for both the bribe-giver and bribe-taker. Another key change seeks to make prior sanction mandatory for prosecuting public servants who cease to hold office due to retirement or resignation.

The powers to attach gain of benefits from profits of corruption are sought to be vested in trial court (Special Judge) rather than district court.

Noting that average trial in cases relating to PCA was 8 years over the last four years, the Cabinet on Wednesday cleared an official amendment that proposes speedy trial with a two-year timecap on its completion.

Prevention of Corruption Act was enacted in 1988. Later developments such as India’s ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) had necessitated a review of existing provisions of the Act. The PCA amendment Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2013.

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