The Centre on Wednesday defended its amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act mandating its prior nod before proceeding against a public servant, asserting that it was intended to “insulate the innocent bribe-givers from harassment”.
“While making the anti-corruption mechanism more stronger and robust, the Amending Act also seeks to achieve an object of insulating the innocent bribe-givers who used to be harassed: the first obviously at the time of demand and payment of bribe and second at the stage of investigation and then prosecution,” the Centre said in its response to a PIL by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation.
The CPIL has challenged two amendments to the anti-corruption Act – one introducing the provision for the government’s mandatory nod before proceeding against a public servant for alleged graft and the deletion of a provision under which misuse and abuse of official position for giving pecuniary or other advantage to anyone was considered misconduct.
The 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 Act.
The Centre has told the apex court that the challenge to the constitutional validity of two provisions of a law could not be done in isolation.
Submitting that the amendment to Section 13 was not the only thing that was done, the Centre contended that the “entire Act has undergone a substantial change whereby the menace of corruption in the country is sought to be eradicated by providing for a more robust and stronger statutory framework”.
“A composite reading of all amendments which are carried out (as against the reading of the two sections in isolation as attempted by the petitioner) would satisfy the court that there is a definite, purposeful, meaningful, well-considered and specific legislative policy underlying the amendment of the Act itself by amending/substituting various sections,” ite told the top court in its response filed on Wednesday.
A cogent reading of the Amending Act would satisfy the court that in fact it reflects the government’s commitment of zero tolerance to corruption which is embedded in the form of Amending Act, it added.