The Indian Parliament has passed the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 (“Act”), which received the assent of the President on 1st January, 2014. The Act came into force from 16th January, 2014, vide Central Government Notification No. S.O. 119(E) dated 16th January, 2014. The Act not only creates a new mechanism to receive complaints relating to allegations of corruption against public servants and to enquire follow up actions, but also amends the existing laws relating to corruptions. The Schedule of the Act amends these statutes from immediate effects:
- The Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952;
- The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946;
- The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988;
- Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973; and
- Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003.
This post is to abreast regarding the amendments in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (“the 1988’s Act”), which provide for drastic enhancements in the penal provisions thereof. The highlights of the amended provisions are as follows:
(I) In Sections 7, 8, 9 and 12 of the 1988’s Act, the minimum sentence prescribed earlier was “six month”, which after the amendment, has been enhanced to “three years”. In these Sections, the maximum period of punishment was “seven years”, which has been enhanced to “ten years”.
(II) Section 13 of the 1988’s Act deals with criminal misconduct by a public servant, which includes 5 categories/species therein. The minimum imprisonment prescribed earlier was “one year” which has been enhanced to “four years” by the amendment. Likewise, the period maximum sentence is also amended and fixed to “ten years” which was “seven years” earlier.
(III) Section 14 of the 1988’s Act relates to habitual committing of offense under Sections 8, 9 and 12. Earlier, the minimum punishment prescribed therein was “two years.” Now this minimum punishment is fixed to “five years.” In this section, the maximum punishment “seven years” is enhanced to “ten years”.
(IV) Section 15 deals with punishment for the attempt of offense under section 13(1) (c) and (d). Under this section, no minimum punishment was prescribed before the amendment. In the amended position, the minimum punishment is “two years”. The maximum punishment is now enhanced to “five years” which was “two years” in the original statute.
(V) Lastly, Section 19 of the 1988’s Act has been amended on the point of sanction for prosecution. In this section, after the words “except with the previous sanction”, the words “save as otherwise provided in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2014” has been inserted.
It is pertinent to mention that these amendments came as a consequence of India’s ratification to the United Nations Convention against Corruption on 9th May 2011. The Convention imposes a number of obligations on the member States to ensure measures in the domestic law for criminalization of offenses relating to bribery and put in place an effective mechanism for its enforcement.