In a decision that could prove a game-changer in the fight against corruption, the government is planning to amend the anti-graft act to cover bribe-givers, especially private companies — instead of only the bribe-taker.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced this on Wednesday, saying, “Experience has shown that in a vast majority of cases, it is difficult to tackle consensual bribery and the bribe-giver gets away by taking advantage of the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
He said big-ticket corruption was mostly related to operations by commercial entities. “It is, therefore, also proposed to include corporate failure to prevent bribery as a new offence.”
Inaugurating the annual conference of the CBI and state anti-corruption bureaus here, he said the government would provide a clear definition of “corruption”, and also amend the act to “protect honest public servants more effectively”.
In an oblique reference to the anti-corruption campaign by Anna Hazare and later by Arvind Kejriwal, he said, “The mindless atmosphere of negativity and pessimism that is sought to be created over the issue of corruption can do us no good.”
Asking the probe agencies to broad-base their resources, Singh said the CBI and other agencies should “engage professionals”.
For instance, agencies probing economic offences should also have investigators from the economics background other than those from the police forces.
CBI director AP Singh, echoing Singh’s views, said vigilance organisations must ensure that “genuine risk-taking” was not stifled as every loss resulting from a commercial decision did not necessarily mean wrongdoing.