Amendments extend reach of India’s anti-bribery law

By Manoj Kumar, Hammurabi & Solomon

The passage of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill by the parliament in July promises deep-seated reforms in the anti-bribery regime in India. Under the bill, the act of obtaining, accepting or attempting to obtain an undue advantage, with or without improper performance of a public duty by a public servant, was made an offence punishable with up to seven years imprisonment.

Manoj KumarFounder and managing partnerHammurabi & Solomon
Manoj Kumar
Founder and managing partner
Hammurabi & Solomon

Under the present law, only abetment of acts relating to bribery were punishable and it was presumed that acceptance of advantage was in return for improper performance of a public servant’s public function. The bill contains no such presumption of wrongdoing. The bill also omits the previous provision safeguarding a person giving a bribe from prosecution based on their statement in a corruption trial. The bill requires that commercial organizations follow guidelines in order to prevent their members from engaging in bribing a public servant.

The bill further provides that inquiry or investigation into any offence can be conducted only with prior approval of the concerned authority except in cases where a person is required to be arrested on the spot on the charge of accepting or attempting to accept undue advantage, i.e. arrest on being caught red-handed. The decision by the authority has to be given not later than three months after the request, extendable by not more than one month.

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Manoj Kumar is the founder and managing partner at Hammurabi & Solomon.

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