Anti-graft law amendments: Centre to file its response on Feb 18

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New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that it would file on Monday (February 18) its response to a PIL challenging the amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act mandating prior permission of the government for prosecuting a government servant for alleged graft.

Allowing the Centre time till February 18 to file its response, the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna gave the petitioner Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), an NGO, a week’s time thereafter to file its rejoinder.

The top court had on November 26, 2018 issued a notice to the Centre and gave it six weeks time to file its response.

The CPIL had also challenged the deletion of a provision under which misuse and abuse of official position for giving pecuniary or other advantage to anyone was considered misconduct.

A provision calling for a mandatory prior nod was introduced by Section 17 A (1) and the one relating to misconduct stood erased with the deletion of Section 13(1)(d)(ii) in the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The provisions for prior government nod for proceeding against a public servant accused of graft and deletion of the one relating to misconduct were effected in the Prevention of Corruption Act by amending it.

With regard to the provision relating to misconduct, the petitioner NGO has contended that it has been used in most prosecutions of public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act where there may not be a charge of directly accepting a bribe.

This provision, the petitioner NGO said, was used for prosecuting the officials in the coal scam cases where officials had given coal mining leases to companies.

The PIL said the amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act violate Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution and have rendered the anti-graft law “almost ineffective by completely diluting the scope of some of the original provisions” and would now “protect corrupt officials and exponentially increase corruption.”

CPIL counsel Prashant Bhushan had said that this was the “third attempt by the Union of India to introduce a provision which has already been twice held unconstitutional by the top court by its two separate judgements.”

–IANS

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