In an attempt to bring the fight against bribery to the private sector, the home ministry is working on tough amendments to the anti-corruption law.
The amendments, if passed, will be so tough that tipping the parking attendant in your office for a better slot could leave you facing jail time. It will make receiving a gift a crime, if it a court says it was in return for undue favours.
Offenders will be punished with a maximum 7 years in jail. According to the draft circulated to the states, the amendments will criminalise a person offering or giving (or soliciting or receiving) an “undue advantage” to anyone to get the person to act in breach of his duties.
Anti-corruption activists welcomed the proposals but lawyers aren’t so sure about its wide and loosely defined provisions.
Criminal lawyer Puneet Mittal said the new definition of private sector bribery was far too large in scope. “It leaves too much room for interpretation… and probably, could be used to start a probe against any commercial activity and to harass people.”
Existing laws only criminalise corruption amongst public servants. A manager in a private firm accepting money for awarding a contract isn’t a crime under bribery laws. The distinction was made since public sector corruption takes a toll on efficiency of public services, raises the cost of transactions and undermines public confidence.