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The Big Picture – Prevention of Corruption Act: Should it be amended?

The Big Picture – Prevention of Corruption Act: Should it  be amended?


The provisions of the prevention of the corruption act have always invited a lot of debate

among people in government and officials. The union finance minister has revived the

debate again by stating that there is a need to review and amend the act. He says that the

provision of section 13 of the act has been deterrent for effective functioning of government

functionaries and officials. Incidentally, the former Prime Minister and Coal secretary are

facing charges. Meanwhile many other officials across the country have been facing charges

under this clause.

The Law Commission has already made some proposals to the Prevention of the Corruption

Act. The government has said that some of the provisions in the Act were not in conformity

with the “changed environment and were apparently having an adverse impact even on

disinvestment and defence production and procurement, areas high on the government’s

policy agenda. Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act defines what constitutes

criminal misconduct by a public servant and specifies penal provisions, which includes jail up

to seven years, against such persons.

Many public servants have said there was real fear of getting entangled in criminal cases

even if their action was in public interest. The constitutionality of section 13 is already under

challenge in the Supreme Court. Incidentally, the previous UPA government had decided to

revoke this clause from the Act after it was highlighted that fear of penal action for bonafide

actions was preventing bureaucrats from taking even routine decisions.

However, many experts have also been opposing this move. They say that government

officials will act lawfully only if such acts are in place.