After it drew objections by some members in Rajya Sabha, a bill to amend the Anti-Corruption Act of 1988 has been referred to a Select Committee. The proposed amendment in the Anti-Corruption Act of 1988 provides for enhancing penalty for graft to a maximum of seven years from the current provision of five years.
The Upper house on Friday formed a 23-member Committee, which has been asked to present the report by the last day of the first week of next session of Parliament. It will be headed by Anil Madhav Dave of BJP.
The Bill was introduced in the House on December 1 and it was moved for consideration on December 3 when members raised objections over certain clauses in it, arguing that these overlap with the provisions of the Lokpal Act and more clarity was needed on these. A resolution to refer the bill to the Committee was moved by Minister for Personnel Jitendra Singh and it was adopted by voice vote.
Among others, the panel will also include Chandran Mitra, Bhupendra Yadav (BJP), Mani Shankar Aiyar, Shantaram Naik, Bhubaneswar Kalita (of Cong), Naresh Agrawal (SP), K C Tyagi (JDU), Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC), A. Navaneethakrishnan (AIADMK), Satish Chandra Misra (BSP), K N Balagopal, Praful Patel, Sanjay Raut, D Raja, and Rajeev Chandrasekhar.
The Bill, pending before the Rajya Sabha for long, provides for more stringent punishment for the offences of bribery, both for the bribe giver and the bribe taker by amending the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Besides, it seeks to enhance penalty for graft to a maximum of seven years from five years now, among other new provisions to check the menace.
When the bill was moved in the House on December 3, Opposition parties including Congress and Samajwadi Party had advocated caution on the measure saying the new law, instead of checking the menace, may end up increasing corruption.
As the discussion over the Bill began on December 7, Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agrawal contented that powers vested in amendments, which the government wants to bring in the bill, have already been given to Lokpal by the Supreme Court.
“So what is the relevance of passing this bill when everything will be decided by Lokpal. Refer this bill to a Select Committee,” he had said.
Congress MP Madhusudan Mistry also sought the Bill be referred to the Select Committee as eight or nine members of Rajya Sabha have already moved a petition seeking same.
The Union Cabinet had on April 29 approved official amendments to the Act, providing for more stringent punishment for bribery – both for the bribe giver and the bribe taker.
The Amendment provides for speedy disposal of corruption-related cases by providing that trial be completed with 2 years. It proposes to extend the protection of prior sanction from prosecution to public servants who cease to hold office after retirement or resignation.
(With inputs from the PTI)