New Delhi: A bill which makes it mandatory for the competent authority to decide on granting prosecution sanction within three months of a complaint was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, also says any application seeking sanction to prosecute a public servant, including a minister, can only be considered if the complaint has been filed in a competent court and it has directed the complainant to obtain prosecution sanction against the public servant for further proceedings.
The amendment bill, introduced by Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy, makes it mandatory for the government or the competent authority to convey whether it has granted prosecution sanction within three months.
The period can be extended by another month after consulting the Attorney General or the Advocate General.
At present, the sanction to prosecute any public servant is granted by the competent authority. While in case of officers, it is the minister concerned, in case of the ministers, it is the Prime Minister.
The move to amend this provision of the Act comes months after adverse comments had been made by the Supreme Court in its judgement on a petition filed by Subramanium Swamy that even after passage of 16 months, the Prime Minister`s Office did not respond to an application seeking sanction to prosecute former Telecom Minister A Raja in the 2G spectrum scam.
"...In the light of a recent judgment of the Supreme Court, the question of amending section 19 of the Act to lay down clear criteria and procedure for sanction of prosecution...It is proposed to incorporate appropriate provisions in section 19 of the Act," reads the bill.
The amendment Bill also provides safeguards to retired public servants from unnecessary prosecution for any bonafide omission or commission in the discharge of their official duties during their service period.
Besides, the proposed amendments also provide for allowing confiscation of property acquired by public servants through corrupt means.
With most of the bribegivers going scot free, the bill also seeks to amend Section 8 in case of "consensual bribery" by providing for a punishment of three to seven years in jail.
One of the changes proposed will empower a special judge to exercise powers of attachment of properties if the case of bribery is established after trial.