Panel examining 'shield' for corrupt babus gets extension

New Delhi, Mar 7: A parliamentary panel examining an anti-corruption amendment bill that seeks inclusion of a provision for prior sanction to be obtained by the CBI or police before initiating action against corrupt officials, serving and retired, has got extension till April end.

The Select Committee of Rajya Sabha headed by BJP MP Anil Madhav Dave is examining the bill to amend Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Corruption: Panel gets extension

"The Committee has got extension to submit its report by April 29," Dave said. The proposed legislation has a provision that "no police officer shall conduct investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant" under the PC Act, where the alleged offence is relatable to any recommendation made or decision taken by such public servant in the discharge of his official function or duties without the previous approval of Lokpal (for central government staff) and Lokayuktas (for those working under state governments).

The Centre is yet to set up the institution of Lokpal and Lokayuktas--as mandated under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had in 2014 held as invalid and unconstitutional a legal provision which makes obtaining sanction of competent authority mandatory for CBI to probe a corruption case against an officer of Joint Secretary rank or above, saying it has the propensity of shielding the corrupt.

In its verdict on validity of Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which protects senior bureaucrats from being investigated in corruption cases without prior approval of the central government, the apex court had said "the corrupt public servants, higher or lower in rank, are the birds of same feather and have to be dealt with equally".

The DSPE Act governs functioning of the CBI. However, there is no need for prior permission in case of arrest of person on the spot while accepting bribe.

The new changes, recommended by the government last year through official amendments in the bill, make it mandatory for a police officer or an agency like CBI to refer any corruption complaint first to Lokpal or Lokayuktas, as the case may be, thus restraining them from taking any action on it.

Dave, BJP's Rajya Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh, said the Select Committee has sought comments from states, union territories, NGOs and other stakeholders on various provisions of the bill by this month-end. "We will be submitting our report by April 29," he told.


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