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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bribe-givers may get 7 days to come clean

If a bribe-giver informs the police or a law enforcement agency within seven days of his action, he may receive immunity from criminal prosecution. 

A proposed bill before Parliament, that seeks to amend the 1988 Prevention of Corruption Act, states only those who inform an agency before paying bribe and help catch the bribe-receiver redhanded should be spared. But a select committee of Parliament, which has studied the bill, in its report said there was no protection to the "coercive bribe-giver" who may have been "compelled" to do so. 

"The committee recommends that if the bribe-giver within seven days of giving or paying bribe to a public servant reports the matter to police or law enforcing agency, he may be given immunity from criminal prosecution," the committee said. It has suggested the bill be modified to say the provisions of the same would not apply where a person is compelled to give an undue advantage to an official and the person so compelled reports the matter to police within seven days of giving the said bribe. 

In its presentation before the committee, the government said only judiciary can analyse evidence and define parameters to ascertain if the bribe-giver was a willing partner or was forced to commit such crime involuntarily. 

"There is every likelihood that most of the bribegivers, though acting in collusion, may claim that bribe was paid under compulsion to evade and escape punishment. In view of the government's policy of zero tolerance to corruption, no distinction in bribegiving, except giving protection to bribe-giver who informs police/probe agencies prior to payment of bribe to public servant, is justified," the DoPT told the select committee. 

However, civil society members told the panel that coercive bribegivers are "the victim of the crime of bribery" and should not be treated on a par with collusive bribe-givers. The panel tended to agree with the civil society more than the government. 

Source:-The Economic Times

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