Legislators in Parliament and state assemblies facing corruption charges could lose their protective shield.
A group of ministers, reviewing changes to the anti-bribery law, is thinking of restricting the need for prosecution sanction to corruption cases linked with their legislative duties only. This would mean that investigating agencies like CBI would not have to seek permission to prosecute MPs if they are caught with dirt on their hands, say in an arms deal.
At present, the presiding officer of the legislature has to accord sanction before a charge-sheet can be filed against a legislator on corruption charges. “The job of a legislator is to legislate and ask questions. Except for corruption charges relating to discharge of these responsibilities, there is no reason why, say the Lok Sabha Speaker, should have to give permission to put him on trial,” a senior government official told HT.
The cabinet had earlier this year constituted the group of ministers under Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to report on amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Global anti-graft watchdog Transparency International has ranked India 72nd this year in its Corruption Perception Index. A 2005 study estimated that people annually paid more than Rs 21,000 crore in bribes.