To widen the ambit of its anti-corruption legal framework beyond the government and public sector, India is considering changing its laws to make bribery in private sector also a criminal offence, according to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Delivering the keynote address at the 18th Biennial Conference of the CBI and state anti-corruption bureaux at Vigyan Bhavan on Friday morning, Singh said, "India ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in June 2011. This will strengthen our anti-corruption efforts and facilitate international cooperation in trans-border cases of corruption." He added, "We are considering changes in our laws to criminalise private sector bribery. Another Bill has been introduced in Parliament to provide protection to whistleblowers. The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill has also been introduced in Parliament."
HT had on October 10 reported about the government move to criminalise private sector bribes.
The PM further said, "As part of our efforts to reduce opportunities for corrupt practices, we are also working on ways and means to minimise discretionary powers of public authorities. This is a matter being considered by a Group of Ministers." The same GoM is also looking at the issue of a public procurement law to minimise irregularities in awarding government contracts, said Singh.
Singh's statements came in the wake of CBI probe in the 2G spectrum scam and the Commonwealth Games scam.
Seeking to tackle CBI's concerns regarding speedy sanctions for probe and prosecution against high-ranking public servants, the PM said, "Our government has recently decided in-principle to prescribe a three-month deadline for deciding on request of investigating agencies for granting sanction for prosecution of public servants and for requests for permission for investigation."
He added, "We have also decided that if an authority refuses to grant permission ... the reasons for such denial would have to be informed to the next higher authority."